OK... I've got a lot of words to share with you, as I've been on a temporary hiatus over the holidays. Get yourself a nice cup of tea, and I'll get down to it.
The past few weeks have gone by so fast and have been jam packed, and I've been having a hard time deciding what to unload first.
In a burst of clarity and creativity, my mind set itself on listin this junk chronologically.
I guess the order will go something like this-
First installment -Adams visit & Chemo consult
Second installment - Visiting DC & Chemo appointment schedule
Adam arrived on Dec. 10th to hang out with the Ontario/Korea crew for a few days. It was kind of a whirlwind tour made even more intense by the wonderful winter weather we experienced. The beautiful blustery conditions forced us to drive up to Thorold on Thursday instead of Friday. Luckily, Asia's parents were sweet enough to put us up for three days.
The first day was spent watching movies and stupid Internet videos (thanks Adam) instead of the planned trip to Niagara Falls. The roads were so bad, that we barely even made it out to Amakara, Japan and Merchant Ale House for my 1 month celebration. Thanks to Kasia for literally digging her way out of her walkway to come and hang with us.
The next day involved a quick trip to Niagara Falls, an even quicker (delicious) dinner with Steph's family and then the Alexis show.
Here are some more pictures.
I went to London for my Chemo consult on December 23rd.
The Doctor (Dr. Vanderburg) is really nice. He and the nurse practitioner did everything they could to make us comfortable.
I was a little stressed out upon arrival, as we were running late due to traffic.
We then had to fill out about 20 pages of paperwork. I had my blood taken and then all of these questions were then re-asked by his nurse, and then again by the nurse practitioner. I guess I can't complain about them not being thorough enough.
While I did remember to bring my camera, I forgot my dang memory card in my computer, so I have no fun and exciting pictures to post from this visit.
Here are a few of the things we talked about.
I heart point form.
- Due to the aggressive nature of triple negative breast cancer, the rate of it recurring for those who seek no further treatment beyond surgery is pretty grim- 6 out of 10.
- My nurse practitioner, who runs a lymphedema clinic at the hospital, informed us that the first noticeable increase in the number of people that develop lymphedema occurs in those who had 17 nodes removed. Because I fall into that category, I was supposed to wear a compression sleeve on my trip to DC. I received one for Christmas(thanks mom!), but, in my usual fashion, forgot to bring it with me.
- The nurse practitioner showed me how to measure my arms and how to check for signs of lymphedema in my hands and knuckles.
- The study that I may be taking part in is called Beatrice. There are 2 conditions, the first being standard Chemo and the second being chemo and a drug called Bevacizumab. In order to qualify, part of my tumor has to be released from St. Michael's to take a nice long flight to Germany, where it would be re-tested to ensure that I do indeed have triple negative cancer. (I'll talk about the pro's and con's later)
- I am supposed to have all of my dental work done before I start my chemo. Otherwise I could find myself in the hospital with infections having teeth pulled, like a friend of the family. I was planning on having this done in Seoul, however, I was sidetracked by my diagnoses. eek.
- As they may interfere with my chemo, I am not permitted to take any vitamins or supplements other than vitamin D.
- (Sorry guys) My periods should return after my chemo is finished, and the doctor thinks it is "highly likely" that I will still be able to conceive when my treatments are complete.
- During treatment, I'm put at a greater risk of blood clots (which usually form in the legs), so the nurse gave me some indicators that I need to look out for (e.g. tenderness below the knee and difficulty taking a deep breath (if the clot moves to my lungs)).
- Around 3 weeks after my first chemo cycle, my head will get tingly. I bet you can all guess what comes next, right? right? A day or two after the tingly feeling, my hair will start to fall out.
- The first three rounds of my chemo will make me feel pretty crappy (read: nausea, vomiting and possible constipation (sorry for the extensive detail. HA)). The last three rounds of the chemo, I will have muscle aches and pain. Overall I think it will make for a lovely few months. I'm quite sure I will be very pleasant through it all, you should come visit me and keep me company (i.e. hold my hair).
- During my chemo, I will have a lower white blood cell count than usual, putting me at higher risk for infections (as they fight infections). So, infections that normally wouldn't be of much concern, could potentially...well, kill me. I've been informed a number of times, that if my temperature ever goes above 100°F, I need to proceed to the nearest hospital immediately. No passing Go, no collecting $200.
- To reduce the likelihood of any sort of infection, I will likely be giving myself shots for the first 10 days of each of my chemo cycles (6 cycles total). I mean, I'm no math whiz, but seems like a whole lot of shots.
- HOWEVER, Before my chemo begins, I have a barrage of test that have to be run. I have appointment comin out the wazoo right now. Liver ultrasounds, Bone scans, Echocardiograms, dentist, blood work. I'm starting to feel like a human pin-cushion, and I know it's only going to get worse for the next few months.
I'll tell ya, if I wasn't nervous about chemo before I went into that meeting, I sure was afterward. I knew that I could get pretty sick and I knew that my immune functioning would be impaired, but I didn't quite grasp to what extent until I spoke with them, and my mother cousin who has been through it about a year and a half ago.
Kinda scary stuff.
Apart from all of that, I'm feeling pretty good right now.
I still get tired fairly easy, but I'm getting more resilient.
As for my range of motion, I have regained it almost entirely. I'm still really stiff in the mornings and at night, but I'm happy with my recovery.
There was awhile there when I though that I would likely never be able to get into down dog again, but I tried to do a little yoga yesterday and I had no problem (Adam, don't be angry).
Thanks to everyone for all the support pictures you have posted. They make me smile (read: borderline teary eyed) every time I see them. :)