It’s been three months since I finished chemo! In some ways it feels like much longer, but in others much closer.
I had a follow-up with my oncologist yesterday and everything looks good and I won’t see her until the fall. At that time if nothing has happened ill graduate from her practice and hope I never see her again. I have also officially finished my expander fills. We are hoping to schedule the swap surgery for the end of August – this should give me time to recover from my oopherectomy which is next Thursday!
For mother’s day my mom and I participated in the Breast Cancer Society of Canada Mother’s Day Walk – we raised over $3000! I would like to thank all the people who supported us. Breast cancer research makes mother’s days moments like the photo below possible.
I was able to cuddle with my sleepy little girl, who preceded to eat more than her older brother.
I just want to feel like myself again.
I have caught another cold from the kids – they are just so generous with those germs 🙂 . But I can’t seem to fight off germs like I used to, it hits harder and seems to linger. Plus, this cold seems to have resulted in a resurgence of heartburn. Something I never had before chemo. Also, I still feel tired, I have been told this is normal but with 2 small children I feel like I’m never going to catch up and feel very frustrated.
I’ve had three expansion to my expanders and I still feel the stretch, particularly in the mornings. Expanders are very odd, it’s like having 2 rocks on my chest and without a shirt any movement in the chest area looks extremely odd. Although I do like being on my stomach I’m glad I’m comfortable on my back / sides as well as when I’m on my stomach I can feel the expanders digging into me.
I had my third fill yesterday and I guess I ran out of extra muscle and skin as I’m aching today. In fact, last night I had to get up to get some Tylenol as I just couldn’t get comfy. I think I’m pretty much the size I want to be – but that might be me deciding I don’t want to stretch anymore 😄. So I will wait a few days and see how I feel. I also need to remember that they stretch you a bit extra to ensure a more natural shape. Which is good because at the moment my expanders definitely don’t look natural. When people tell you expanders are like rocks – believe them, these things have no give. I feel like I’m gonna bruise my kids when I hug them.
So I’ve realized it’s the little things about chemo that can be surprising – I mean everyone knows about the nausea, tiredness, hair loss, etc… But no one mentioned that the loss of your nose hair means that your nose drips constantly – I always needed a kleenex near by and often I didn’t even notice until there was a wet spot in front of me. So my newest annoyance is the hair growth. I’m thrilled to have hair again (especially nose hair), but I’ve already had numerous ingrown hairs and it itches as it grows back – particularly in places it’s considered rude to scratch! And I’ve had to start plucking my chin hairs again.
Overall though things are going well, although I still feel tired. With two small children in the house I don’t think I’ve really had a chance to really rest. I honestly don’t know how single parents cope with treatment, I’ve found it difficult even with my husband. Also living in Canada I’ve not had to worry about the cost of treatment and my job is safe. This is particularly important as I have a date for my oophorectomy and decided to ask for a leave extension – I’m supposed to start work next week, but surgery is in a month and has a 3 week recovery period. So no point in returning for basically a month and taking off almost a month, especially as it’s a new job, which means lots of new things to learn and remember. It’s made me extremely grateful that I’m going to be working for the federal government.
Last Friday would have been my sister’s 39th birthday. It’s hard to believe that she’s been gone for more than 5 years. I still some times catch myself thinking Nicole would love this or that I can’t wait to tell her about something. I think it’s especially hard this year as I’ve finished my active treatment for breast cancer – something that would never have happened for Nicole. As she was diagnosed at stage 4 she would have been in treatment for the rest of her life. When she was diagnosed I didn’t look up anything on the internet as I didn’t want to know. She had a rule that we weren’t allowed to cry in front of her. I think this would have been impossible if I truly knew her prognosis – it was hard enough anyways.
Anyways Happy 39th Nicole!
This is one of the last photos of Nicole – I currently have more hair than her. This seems very weird as she always had nice thick, long hair.
It’s really started to grow!
Although nowhere near the length of E’s crazy hair! We should probably trim her hair at some point, but it’s so cute.
So this week I had my first fill. During my mastectomy the plastic surgeon placed tissue expanders under my chest muscle – which was the most painful part – but these are then filled with saline until you reach your desired size. I hadn’t bothered with fills while in active treatment, why bother adding to my discomfort. But I have now started and the process is interesting. First the Dr uses a little magnet to find the port in the expander – this allows for fills without piercing the expander itself. Then the needle is inserted – this is extremely strange as I really don’t have much feeling in my breasts I didn’t feel the needle at all on one side and sort of felt it on the other. After the needle is correctly placed they slowly injected 60ml of saline, the needle is removed, a band-aid is placed and you are done! The first fill went really well, I’ve heard some people have a hard time, but thanks to pregnancy I have lots of extra breast skin. Unfortunately it will get harder from here :-).
Just a quick note if you ever find yourself in this position I was warned not to worry about how the expanders look – for example don’t be surprised if they start to look different even though they are filled to the same extent and the best comment – you might end up with an expander in your armpit! Apparently the fluid moves to the path of least resistance, which can be your normal breast location but also just about anywhere between your neck and lower chest. So here’s to hoping my breasts don’t get to lopsided.