I live my mama. She is the one person that loves me the most, unconditionally. When I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer last October, she probably took it worse than everyone I know.

My family, just a few days ago, celebrated her 67th birthday. She was so grateful and said it’s was her best birthday yet. Her only source of pain was that one of her children had decided to cut all ties with the rest of the family because of tough times.
Today was tough for all of us but especially our mother. She got a potentially life changing diagnosis. Not cancer, but definitely serious. I’m skipping over details, but I’ll revisit them soon, God willing. I just needed to mark this day.

2 more

My shift ends in 30 minutes and I’m super exhausted.
I walked the mile-plus to the cancer center for my radiation session at 7am and had a good session with no incident. This last week of treatment has so sister of a ‘boost’ where they only target the area in my breast where the surgeon removed cancer cells.
I walked back home, felt energized throughout, took a shower and after curled back in bed for about an hour before I had to log into work.

I got up 20 minutes before log in time and went to the kitchen to make breakfast for my home/online schooled child and myself. My two public school children had been in school about 1.5 hours by then. We had breakfast, I went over the assignments my child had to complete that morning and told him I’d monitor his computer usage to make sure he doesn’t sneak in any Netflix time while on school time. Then I went back to my bedroom/office to begin my 8-hour shift.
It didn’t take long for me to wish I was back in bed. One hour after my shift began, some

Quite the week

I missed one radiation session this week, had a traumatic session the following day and boy, am I glad I only have one more full week of radiation left.
Session 11/20 on Monday, went wrong. I was at the cancer center on time as always but ended up waiting 20 minutes before I realized something was wrong. I don’t normally wait more than 10 minutes.

I hated that I had to ask before I was told there was an equipment malfunction. They were going to see if there was another machine they could put me on but that plan didn’t work so after 40 minutes, I had to leave. My kids had to get to school and I had to get to work. Additionally, the radiation oncologist said it was ok to have 3 days off.
The following day, I went in as normal, was called to the back, loaded onto the machine, then… nothing.
I took my usual prone position on the padded, but nevertheless, hard table, with my left boob hanging through a cutout they designed on the table, ready to be radiated. The technicians pushed and pulled on the half-folded sheets I laid on, adjusting my body into impossibly uncomfortable positions. One of the sheets is always at my hips, the other by my arms and shoulders. The technicians went to their stations and the machine began whirring, ready to administer it’s, hopefully, cancer killing rays.

Then, suddenly, the machine stopped.
The technicians came over to where I laid then tugged, pulled, pushed and adjusted my body. Totally uncomfortable, I convinced myself it was only be 15 minutes as usual and I would get comfortable again. But this whole process lasted over 40 minutes.

The technicians could not get the machine calibrated right not matter how much they pushed and pulled me into uncomfortable positions.

It worked this time and 20 minutes later I walked out of the cancer center, upset and just wishing I could spend the day in bed. But I had kids to take to school, another kid taking online classes at home to supervise and attend to my 8 hours of regular work. The day was a bust but thankfully, the remaining 3 weekdays left were uneventful.

All my joints, from my neck to my knees, were stiff and painful and after 40 minutes, I had to get off from that table. I see the radiation oncologist each Tuesday so I saw him and went back to the padded table for another jab at the radiation machine.

Today is Saturday and I’m finally getting to spend the day in bed and only getting up to cook breakfast and dinner for the kids.

9 of 20

I am glad tomorrow is Friday. I need the weekend break I get from 5 day a week radiation.

A week ago, I thought I’d sail through the 20 treatments planned with no major side effects. I was more fatigued than normal, but nothing a full night of sleep couldn’t cure.

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My boob skin looked great — normal — no discoloration, no peeling and best of all, no pain. A week later, I can’t say the same.

My boob feels heavy and warmer than normal. There’s an itch I can’t scratch, and there’s low-key pain… like it’s peeping at me, thinking I don’t see (feel) it, but I do.

I’ve been applying copious amounts of moisturizer, several times a day. I bought several tubes of Boiron Calendula cream a month ago, once I decided I would go ahead with radiation. I’ve also been generous with chamomile and turmeric butter. Plus the radiation oncologist gave me a tube of something designed specifically for radiation.

I am thinking next week will be rough on my boob skin and the final week will be even worse. Prayers are needed.

Radiation begins

I just came back home after my first radiation appointment.

I will be going in each weekday for 1 month for a total of 20 treatments.

I felt nothing during the 30 minute process but my arms and rib cage being tired of being in the same position for 30+ minutes.

The radiation oncologist did warn me of fatigue following radiation treatments, and I thought I’d be ok but I am now 30 minutes post appointment and I am ready to go to sleep. I still feel nothing on the targeted boob, other that the same sensations I’ve felt since the lumpectomy in November.

I have managed to maintain the schedule set at new job so far. Only have to take 6 hours for PTO. I was lucky that my request to have the radiation appointments be set up before work was accommodated. I’ll be going in at 8 a.m. and hopefully done by 8:30 so I can log in to work at 9 a.m.

I just hope the fatigue wont get me tomorrow and in subsequent days since I’ll have had (hopefully) a good night’s rest.

Pathology report, post op pain & new job

Almost a week ago, I went in for my post op appointment with the oncology surgeon who removed my DCIS. It was short visit and quite unfulfilling.

Dr. B, the surgeon, along with two residents, seemed quite nonchalant. I am sure they were tired as I was the last patient scheduled for the day, but you shouldn’t let the customer know that.

A few pleasantries and a quick glance at my wound had Dr. B. remarking on how good the area looked — no sign of infection and healing well. He then handed me my 6-page pathology report, told and showed me (on a ruler), the size of the affected area — 2 mm — then recommended next steps, radiology and a visit back with him in 4 months.

Dr. B volunteered that based on the size of calcifications he removed (I don’t want to call it a tumor, I am not owning these dastardly things), he staged the DCIS at stage 0. He reassured me that there was no lymph node involvement so none were removed during surgery. All good things as long as the status quo remains.

The one negative was that the rogue cells removed exhibited aggressiveness, they were fast growing, so my prayer is that none of them remain in my body.

I had prepared a list of questions prior to the visit, as so many breast cancer advocates suggest, but to my chagrin, I forgot to bring my notepad to the appointment. Obviously, as a result, I forgot to ask a bunch of questions during my visit.

I did remember to ask about the numbness and the burning sensation I’ve been feeling around the area that was cut as well as around my nipple and areola. Dr. B said that was normal, confirming what several ladies in the breast cancer community told me when I asked.

I wasn’t in much paid the week after the lumpectomy but since last week, the pain really cannot escape notice. I am fairly large-breasted with fairly large nipples so I feel the brushing of my sports bra and clothing probably more than the average size woman. I’m tired of taking pain pills, using cold packs and massaging my breast with CBD oil. How long does this uncomfortable pain continue?

It’s worse during the day, I guess because I am more aware of it, so sitting through a day of training for my new work-from-home job is excruciating. I almost called the nurse navigator on my lunch break today but then I remembered that I have a whole month of training from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and no time for another doctor’s visit. And yep, I realize how crazy that sounds.

The thing is, I haven’t been employed in the traditional sense of the word for more than 10 years, since I had my last child. I’ve been a contractor, working from home for various companies, setting my own schedule for years. However, just before my diagnosis, in August/September I decided I wanted a full time job to get more financial security and benefits.

I was interviewed for this job the day of my chest MRI on October 25 and received word that same evening that I got the job. The fact that I can work from home for a decent salary and excellent benefits is a bonus but being there for my 13-year-old who was diagnosed with a depressive mood disorder in August and takes online classes is priceless.

All this means is that I’ll take care of my health but I’ll also fulfill the requirements of this job as best as I can.

I meet the radiologist on Dec. 24, a paid company holiday, and hope to start 7-8 weeks of radiation in January when my schedule begins a bit later in the day.

I believe that it’s all going work itself out. God’s looking out for me.

Getting back to normalcy

I haven’t worked all week since Monday’s lumpectomy, even though I work from home, taking calls and listening to customers complain about the most mundane things. Ever since my DCIS diagnosis, I am even more flabbergasted at some of the little things that set people off and I get jealous that these are the things they worry about.

But I digress.

Today, I decided to get up and try working a bit. I didn’t have to talk with anyone, thankfully. I was just listening to customer recordings and doing what needs to be done to ensure they remain customers (I know that’s vague, but I signed a privacy contract with a client).

Anyway, it’s 5 hours in, with two 30 minute breaks, and I am as sore as a pincushion.

I left my mama’s home, where she and my sister had waited on me hand and foot for three days, last night. I had to leave since my kiddos wanted to come to me (they were staying with their dad since they left school Monday), and they prefer staying in their own bedrooms with access to their video games and computers.

What’s left of my meal tonight.

Today, I also managed to make my kids a simple meal consisting of air fried French fries, chicken wings and finely chopped red cabbage I made over the stove and seasoned with curry powder, salt and onions. Since I am trying (emphasis) to limit my animal product consumption, I made myself some red beans smothered in turmeric powder and had it with the red cabbage. I’ve been a meat eater all my life so I couldn’t resist ‘tasting’ the ‘flat’ part of one wing.

I find that I feel guilty each time I put meat in my mouth, even if it’s just chicken. Before my diagnosis, I used to eat beef burgers at least once a week and some kind of steak also once a week. Not anymore. It’s like the big C just knocks taste right off, especially since they say red meat increases ones risk for the disease.

Still, through my research, I have found that vegetarians and vegans also get the big C, so do we really know why any of us are diagnosed?

I digress again. I was supposed to only write about getting back to normalcy, as much as possible.

Apart from sitting at my desk working, as well as cooking a bit today, I managed to drive my oldest child to and from dance rehearsals two miles from our apartment.

I am proud I was able to do what I did today, even though I didn’t manage to get on the treadmill as I wanted. That will have to be tackled on another day, God willing.

The fog has lifted

It’s three days since my lumpectomy and physically, I feel so much better. I was super duper sore the first two days so I took the pain meds prescribed every four hours, like clockwork. Downside is that I’ve been pretty much high on opioids for three days.

Today, however, I am clear minded. I haven’t had to take a dose since 2 a.m. and it’s almost midday now.

I feel and hope that I am now cancer-free. I have been praying that the lumpectomy removed any killer cells that may have developed in my body.

I’ve been reading a lot about my diagnosis while laying in bed. The doctors call it DCIS, high grade, which they say has a very high survival rate of 98% and more. The high grade part is what worries me because it apparently means that these killers cells grow and multiply fast.

My mind has been on a ‘blood infection’ diagnosed in July while I was out of the country. It was such a random diagnosis, one I’ve never had before, that it keeps nagging me. I was prescribed antibiotics for it and I was better in 3 days. It presented with a fever, chills and a headache. Plus I was having a hard time breathing at the time.

Because I am reading a lot about mets, even though doctors say my lymph nodes are clear, I wonder about these bad cells traveling through my blood to other areas of my body. I want to remain positive and not give credence to these thoughts but sometimes it’s hard.

I am working on maintaining faith that prayer and medicine has led me to being cancer free this week.

I’ve got this, rambling

I recently saw Dr. Priti again during my presurgical procedures. She is the kind, pretty doctor who gave me my diagnosis a month ago. Even though I only met her that day for a less than 20 minutes, I got the feeling that she genuinely cared. And she again demonstrated that when I recently saw her. She had a cold on this recent visit and wore a surgical mask. Still, I pray that she wasn’t contagious as I really don’t want a cold, or anything else that will make me sick.

Dr. Priti and I had a good rapport as she worked with a nurse to get my left breast imaged again and ‘ultrasounded’ so she could insert a magnet of sorts that would quickly guide the surgeons to the correct area during surgery. This process (whose name I’ve forgotten) involved another long needle, like during my biopsy over a month ago. But surprisingly, it didn’t sting as much and wasn’t as physically awkward.

Somehow, the conversation during the entire 15-minute procedure involved my children — what they are like, my relationship with them, etc. I was happy that Dr. Priti was okay with the fact that I didn’t want to tell them quite yet about this diagnosis. “You can tell them much later,” she said, “nothing wrong with that.”

My son and I recently attended his basketball team’s first meeting.

My oldest, a high school freshman, recently made the school basketball team. He sailed through tryouts, working hard, eating right and just being excited. My news would have derailed this happy boy and i wasn’t having none of that.

I also attended his team’s first meeting with the coach and parents outlining expectations, rules (we don’t want parents behaving badly kinda rules), team mother selection, etc.

After the meeting, my kid jokingly wondered why I didn’t speak up and offer my services when two women were jockeying for the team mother position. He know that would probably never happen.

Not only am I an introvert who abhors hanging out with other parents or hosting events, I feel like all other parents are either like Christina Applegate’s character in “Bad Moms” and the parents who let the character push them around.

One of the two women who really wanted to be team mom.

The conversation during the ride back to our apartment after the team meeting touched on why I don’t usually volunteer to chaperone my kids’ school field trips or allow them sleepovers. The simple answer is that people make me nervous and I don’t gel with the topics they love to talk about. I’ve attended exactly one class party for each of my children since they’ve been in school from age 5 and I’ve chaperoned exactly one field trip each as well. That’s a grand total of 6 events over the last 9 nine years and I assure you that’s more than I’ve wanted to handle or more than I’ve desired.

I’ve always been content just buying and dropping off what is needed for the trips and events… chips, soda, juices, bottled water, cookies and such.

I did promise my son that once we move to our new house (I’ve decided to get a house once I am better so we can leave our one-year leased apartment), I’ll host a dinner for the team. This means that my son will have to tryout for the team during his sophomore year because the apartment lease doesn’t end until next fall, then we’ll have to get settle in, furnish the home and make it our own.

Lofty plans, I tell you, but it’s something to look forward to as I face treatment and the still-to-be fleshed out plan seemed to make my son happy. “You really would do that mom?” he asked when I made the suggestion. “Of course, babe,” I replied, already wondering what easy thing (I don’t enjoy cooking) to cook would be on the menu. Spaghetti is pretty easy, with meatballs and veggies and garlic bread.

This is a ramble post for sure, I still have to tackle surgery. Here’s to prayers that I am cancer free after that. Hoping that none of these bad cells had the audacity to travel to any other part of my body.

Got a date!

Not that kind, hehe!

It took a whole week but I finally got a date for my surgery. It takes place one month after my diagnosis.

As I said I would do on my last post, I spent almost 40 minutes yesterday, Friday, making calls to the cancer center where I am receiving treatment, holding and being transferred to someone to handle my complaint about Kim not returning my calls to schedule my surgery. I finally got the number and got transferred to the office manager. But I decided to hang up and try Kim one more time and this time, she picked up!

I am looking forward to having this part of me that could kill me cut out. And my hope and prayer is that it’s the only part of my body with bad cells.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know that my God is mighty. I continue to ask him to continue guiding the doctor’s treating me and others in similar situations. That the knowledge the doctors have amassed be used to help us, even as we continue to struggle with having the kind of faith it takes to get a completely supernatural healing.