Prophylactic laparoscopic bilateral salpingoophorectomy

Yeah, salpingoophorectotmy. It’s a word in the medical realm. Translation: the removal of both ovaries via laparoscopic surgery.  Here are my random wild thoughts going through my mind these last few days:

The surgeon looks Like Taylor Swift and younger than my 27 year old son. I am sure she is in her thirties though. I didn’t ask how many of these she has done. I felt it would be rude.

Had a dream and all I can remember was me asking the hospital staff to not tell my husband that I cried.

I need to get my cousins address’ so I can mail them the genetic address for my mutated gene so they can make the choice if they want to get tested or not.

Surgery is scheduled the day my husband flies out for his 30th reunion in AZ. I am confident I will be fine with my son and friends checking on me. I am worried that I will not be.

I plan on keeping my upbeat positive attitude and some type of Cancercize video going, being back at work in two weeks…but the worry is there. What if this time this ‘simple’ surgery does me in? What if I am nauseated the whole recovery process? How hard is it going to be to sit up then down then stand? I know I will have to walk to prevent blood clots, will I be able to?

Can I do this without the hubby around? He has been my rock through so much of this.

Insurance deductible starts over July 1st, so guess who will have to start all over with the bills? Yep, that is me.

The next day Paula from Never A Dull Bling will be in town and I wanted to hug her and get a picture of her and I with Bear. Will I be able too? Maybe if my son drives me downtown to the hotel for a quick meet and greet. Or maybe she can come up the hill to me?

I am thankful that coffee is not on my ‘do not eat or drink this anymore’ list. I find that I really want a glass of wine these last few days.

And while I am rambling lets add:

Why when I do a live feed on Facebook the video sound is off? How does one go about creating a webpage? How do I use the other video program on my Apple? How can I load and copy pictures to my blog? I wanted a picture of Taylor Swift with her hair the way the doctor wore hers, couldn’t get it to ‘copy and paste’ or download or any of that. Why does technology intimidate me so? Can I get a massage without having to lie down on my belly? Why do I feel so lazy when I don’t get a walk/wog in more than once a week? Isn’t it strange that the hair on the side of my head is growing back faster than the top and back? And on that note, why is the armpit hair growing back faster? How many cups of coffee are too many? Wait, don’t answer that last one.

So many things to think/worry about. I am like the dog in the pic. I could totally take those kittens if I wanted to even though they are a bit intimidating.

 

It started off as confidence….kind of

The day started with my usual two, okay three cups of coffee. Time wasted on social media. A catch up on the local news. Some meditation and contemplating. Recorded my daily workout video for Cancercize and packed lunches. Not a bad start to my day but nothing special.

Suddenly I was feeling brave and confident. I decided I was NOT going to wear a head covering today at work.

As I was getting ready for work, applying my makeup I looked good and hard in the mirror and thought, hmm I think I can do it.

I walk to the dining room to grab my lunch and purse and kiss goodbye. I tell him today is the day I am going to be brave. How do I look? This was my first dent in my confidence.

His response was ‘I look at you everyday, I am used to you, your coworkers are not’. It wasn’t meant cruelly, it just came out in boy speak. You know words and tone are not their  finer points. But it was enough to make me grab a hat as I walk out the door.

As I drove to work on the freeway still feeling somewhat confident, I noticed a car keeping perfect pace with me. I glanced over. He was staring. Staring intently until he was caught, so he sped away. This is my second dent in my confidence.

It messed with my emotions more than I anticipated. How can I expect co-workers and friends to accept this head if I can’t. I can’t because strangers can’t. I had a hard time shaking that thought process today.

BUT WAIT!!! This is a picture of me! I had a friend come over and snap pictures for the Canercize flyers and the website we are building. So I must have some confidence. I just don’t have ALL the confidence…..yet.

 

Cuckoo

The other night my son came over and we had a movie night. I was in the mood to watch ‘The Wedding Singer’ because at work the song ‘Love Stinks’ came on and we all started talking about the movie. It is such a fun movie.

There is a scene right after he is stood up at the altar when the nephews are teasing him about being cuckoo and needing to go to a mental institution. The voice of the child is still rattling around in my head. Cuckoo cuckoo.

Last night a friend messaged me and told me I was her hero. That with all that I am challenged with I still keep going. I am not a hero.

I am a girl. Who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Who had surgery and chemotherapy to put the cancer in its place and control it. Nothing more nothing less.

It did however get me to thinking. When you get the call that you have cancer you suddenly become a deer in headlights. It is overwhelming and scary all at once. You are bombarded with doctors and insurance and bills and advice and un-welcomed suggestions. Forming a plan of action. For me surgery, reconstruction, chemotherapy. It is put into motion and professionals are helping you meet that plan of action. You do what you need to do and trust those you need to trust. It is really not that hard because you do not know better.

What is hard is the mental battle. Your emotions are all over the place, often controlling you like a puppet. You wake up ready to face another day and suddenly your brain starts telling you don’t forget you have cancer. People die from cancer. Cancer is your fault. You must have done something really wrong in this world to get cancer. Only bad things happen to bad people. Cancer is eating your body right now. You will never feel normal again. Don’t forget to have a pity party. It flat-out can make you feel like you are cuckoo. Not for cocoa puffs, just cuckoo. It mentally slaps you, hard.

How can you be a hero when you are cuckoo? You can’t. You just get up and go. Go until you exhaust your thoughts. Go until you can finally prove to yourself you are not cuckoo. Go until someday the thoughts will no longer haunt you.

I am a girl. Slightly nuts before, definitely crazy now. Ready to embrace this new sense of ‘normal’ and accept that cuckoo is not really a bad thing. It can’t be. And besides, it was really funny and almost cute when the 5 year old said it in the movie…

 

Today is better….

I was so discouraged the other day. The day I wrote about ‘I can’t’

It was the first time that I really thought I can’t since that fateful call on Nov. 3rd.

My poor husband. I came home on Wednesday and he made the mistake of asking if I was okay. Okay!?!? NO! No I am not okay as I lay crying in a lump on the bed. What was your first clue? I was so tired. I just kept telling him I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

He picked me up and said yes you can you are just tired. He then told me that he will feed me Taco Bell and then I should go to bed. I think it helped. I know the Taco Bell did.

They told me that the last round of chemotherapy will hit me the hardest. Knowing it and living it are two different things. No matter how much I braced myself for it I was not mentally prepared. The fatigue was harder, the dry fingertips are unmanageable , the flat taste in my mouth and dried tongue are worse. Then to top it off my asthma started kicking my ass, er lung I should say. So not sleeping from night sweats, chemically induced fatigue and a cramping right lung truly left me discouraged. It left me at I can’t.

Today, today is so much better. Now my mind is wandering and wondering.

Thinking of things like the following:

Are chemically induced hot flashes worse than when it happens naturally? My vote is yes.

The hair on my head that is growing back is like a brillo pad. It is coarse, gray and sticks out in all directions. Soon it will poke straight through my hats and wigs. When I showered the other day I used conditioner on it hoping it will soften. I think it is a logical conclusion. It didn’t.

Vanilla seems to be the saving grace for my coffee with the tongue/taste bud issues. Is it wrong that I am drinking extra cups of my froo froo sweet vanilla coffee because it actually tastes good? Probably, but right now I am still too tired to worry about calories and dehydration. I will just drink more water inbetween cups, yeah that is totally logical.

Why isn’t being naked at work and in public acceptable? The moment I put clothes on I start sweating. Granted I don’t think people would appreciate all of ‘this’ (pointing to my body) naked.

Do all the hot flashes and night sweats smell, or is it just in my head? I have started spraying my clothes down with my signature scent just in case. It worked for the French.

I am ready for life after chemotherapy. I am searching for my new ‘normal’ I will find it. One cup of coffee and douse of perfume at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

A little personal…

As I am navigating this new journey that life has handed me, I realize how much uncharted waters there really are.

Changes in my body by surgery. Changes in my diet, exercise, daily living. Learning that not all change is good. Accepting that all change can be turned into good if I focus it. All the mental challenges of the diagnosis itself. Reminding myself that I have revenge goals that I damn well want to meet next year.

I tested a wog yesterday when I took out the trash. It was from the garbage can to the front door but I feel like I can do it. I tested lifting heavier weights in a private workout and feel like I can do it. I tested a new sleep combination/blanket and feel like maybe I can do it. Started taking my hair, skin and nails vitamins yesterday and feel confident I will have hair again. It is all these little things that are making me stronger. That I am choosing to make me stronger.

There are things I didn’t think about having to navigate through. Like yesterday. A new challenge confronted itself.

I was at a friends thirty-two hot to handle birthday party at a local Irish Pub. Excused myself to use the restroom. No big deal. I get to the public restroom and put down the thin potty seat protector (I used to never use these things but germs  concern me because of the chemo) I sit down on the toilet and do my business. Not really thinking it through. I was having a hot flash. When you have a ‘flash’ your whole body becomes a sweat pool. THE WHOLE BODY including the backs of your thighs! The part sitting on a thin piece of paper that is now officially stuck to you. Not all the paper, bits and pieces of the paper. So you catch yourself peeling chunks of ‘protective’ paper off your flesh and trying to get it all in the toilet without making another kind of mess.  Oh there are other messes. Trust me.

 

I found this today in FB I think this should be a law. 13260170_1173613056005518_4980833294891281579_n

And now I must go. The laptop is making me have a hot flash as I type! At least you now know what to expect if you are starting menopause and have to use a public restroom. The germs are probably less annoying than the paper sheet stuck to your thighs.

Living paycheck to paycheck….

Many years ago, when I was much younger, freshly married and a new mom we truly were living paycheck to paycheck. It was frustrating, exhausting, and worrisome at times. How were we going to make it?  There are bills to pay and needs to be met with a new young mouth to feed. Somehow we always found a way to make it to payday.

Life has a funny way of repeating itself. The circumstances are different yet the reasons are just as noble.

I catch myself watching my bank balance. My husband makes a decent living so he pays the majority of the bills. I am in charge of groceries, the phone bill and paying for my fitness lic. and continuing education expenses and miscellaneous things.This usually leaves me with a cushion in my bank account before each payday. Until recent events.

The cancer diagnosis was  a life changer for sure. A very expensive life changer. Bills coming from everywhere, even with insurance our out of pocket expenses ate up all our cushion. Now we have met all the out-of-pocket for now and there are no extra charges, just co-pays. Yet, I catch myself still living paycheck to paycheck.

This is why, I have started living. I no longer put off the things that I didn’t do because I couldn’t afford them. I just do it. I have loved ones that I want to send something to, so I do. I have pictures that I had developed from an October Zumba fundraiser that I have not framed. Not anymore. I want them framed and put up to enjoy. I want to send flowers to a friend, an extra card in the mail to a loved one, donate to a charity I believe in, try growing an herb garden, go out and laugh with friends. Get it?

Life is too short to wait and do the things someday. If you are not living now, then when? Enjoy what you have. Enjoy it now. Enjoy the things that make you happy. Give until you can’t give anymore. Give of yourself, give joy, give time, give money, give devotion, give peace, give encouragement. Just give and you will see that you are really living, paycheck to paycheck. Surprisingly though your life will feel fuller and richer than ever before.

Today is my last round of chemotherapy. Soon I will be living even more. Stay tuned.

 

 

I’m hot then I’m cold……

Okay so the real lyrics from the Katy Perry song are ‘You’re hot then you’re cold’ but I am singing about myself.

The chemotherapy has totally taken over my hormones as promised by my doctors. I have hot flashes and night sweats so often now I am not sure what ‘normal’ feels like anymore.

I sleep with my ceiling fan on. Not that unusual, right? But, I HAVE to also have my big comforter over me too. This seems to be a conflict of interest to most, husband included. I start off cold so I cover myself. It doesn’t take long before I go into sweating mode and have to throw the cover off and let the fan cool me off. Soon I will be too cold and have to cover up again. For this very reason I stopped wearing my Fitbit when I sleep. I do not need to be reminded that I woke up 27 times. Yes 27!

This week seems to be worse. I have started wearing skirts and dresses at work because they are cooler. I seem to sweat through my back and toes when I have daytime hot flashes. The night sweats, well I just soak everything including the pillow. It only takes a few days of interrupted sleep and early mornings (like 3am because you just can’t try to sleep again) to make you feel like you are losing your mind and haven’t slept for months. It isn’t true but it feels true.

The other lovely thing I have going on is acid reflux and an increase in gas. I have always had gas. All humans do. It is natural. Mine has always smelled like death. You know ‘silent but deadly’. That is me. Lately they have been death warmed over twice then forgotten so it rotted. Yeah, I know, gross. Try living in that smell. So I looked it up to see if it is a side effect of chemo. Guess what I found:

 

Chemotherapy medications you may be taking to treat breast cancer can cause gas by speeding up or slowing down your digestion. This can increase the amount of gas released in the stomach, which can increase belching or flatulence. Chemotherapy also can affect how the bacteria in your stomach work, causing gas and abdominal pain.

So that is awesome. GERD and acid reflux are also part of the process too. I am so relieved that it is a treatment induced issue but sheesh kick a girl when she is bald!

I know that the chemotherapy is catching up to me. Not just from the increase issues but that it is harder and harder for me to find the humor in it. I have always found humor in every little thing in life. I have always been able to bring a chuckle to myself or others in any situation. It is getting harder and harder for me. This is how I know that the medications are effecting me.

I have one more round of chemo left. ONE MORE ROUND!! I have to get though this. I will get though this. The question is will I get though it with grace, joy and a non raw butt hole? Will I get through with a sense of humor left? Will there be an end (ha!) to the gas and GERD? Will I ever adjust to the hot flashes (they will continue after for many years,ugh) ? Why is the sky blue? What is an eight-hour night of solid sleep like? What is up with the Muppets getting cancelled? So many questions, so many uncertainties, so many ways to bring out depression.

This is what I know to be true: It is for the greater good. My husband still loves me even though I am scarred, deformed, bald and sometimes smell. I have a new perspective of what I want out of life and will soon have the energy to pursue it. That this too shall pass. And most of all that my bedroom ceiling fan is quite beautiful.

 

Met the new neighbor……

No one in my real world has really seen the bald me.

Oh my husband has. He in fact is the one who shaved my head when my hair started falling out by the cupfuls.

My son has when he has come over to hang out with us at the house.

One of the oncology nurses has because at my last infusion I had a hot flash and had to remove my hat to cool off quickly.

If you follow me on YouTube at Cancercize with Renee B. https://youtu.be/Qa3Zgl7srBA then you have seen my bald little head. I don’t count that as people seeing me bald because that is the ‘cyber world’ not real world.

Yesterday I stopped to talk to the homeowners Dan and Angie who I rent an upstairs apartment from. They told me they are so impressed with how well I am handling chemotherapy. They even told me that I make them look lazy! Ha! It is a lovely compliment coming from very wonderful people.

Dan was telling me that he likes all my cute hats and hairpiece and that I have a lot fun with them. Angie said she was glad to see me having ‘fun’ with it.

As we were talking Angie informed me we have a new neighbor across the hall now. They really like her and hoped that I would too. As we were talking the new neighbor walked up. We were introduced to each other and shook hands. She is young and beautiful and seems very nice. We walked into the house and up the stairs together getting a little background on each other. It was nice, the last neighbor was odd and would avoid talking to me.

About an hour later I hear a knock on our door. We were getting ready to go for a walk so I ran to answer the door expecting Dan and Angie. Nope, it was the new neighbor asking for the wi-fi password. I didn’t have my hat or hair or scarf on! I do not know if Dan and Angie ‘warned’ her about my journey. I hope so. If not I can’t even imagine what is going through her head. She was very kind and didn’t stare or act startled. So there is that. Keith ,my husband felt bad for me AND for her. It put me in spot I wasn’t ready for. Sure I answered bald, but I assumed it was the homeowners and they know about the hairless me.

 

Perhaps after this encounter I will become bolder about bearing my baldness? For now I will stick to the cute hats, wigs and scarves. Like the one my husband is wearing in the picture. A friend made me that hat. It has the hair sewn into it! It was a bit tight and gave me a headache so Keith wore it backwards like that during my last round of chemo to stretch it out. It worked! I wear this one often because it is easy to put on (and take off if I am having a hot flash)

 

 

 

Enough……

“You can never do enough to be enough. If you have challenges figuring out who you are, stop searching. “Enough” is not a place you find, it is not a destination, it is not what you do. Being enough is a state of “being”. Enough is about acceptance. Accept who you are and devote time and energy into becoming the person that you deserve to become” Jeffery Coombs

‘you’ve got it all wrong. you didn’t come here to master unconditional love. that is where you came from and where you’ll return. you came here to learn personal love. universal love. messy love. sweaty love. crazy love. broken love. whole love. infused with divinity. lived through the grace of stumbling. demonstrated through the beauty of…….messing up. often. you didn’t come here to be perfect. you already are. you came here to be gorgeously human. flawed and fabulous.’

These are two things that popped up in my Facebook ‘You have memories’ app.

Funny how they both strike a similar and powerful cord.

As a woman, mom, wife, co-worker, daughter, sister,friend I have never felt like enough. There is always something more I can do to be better at those titles. Something that I could say or do that will finally make me good enough to deserve those titles.

Enough is enough. Life truly is short. There is no time to pursue a perfection that doesn’t exist. There is only time to chase after the good, the love, the peace of mind that you are enough. Accepting that is difficult. Knowing that it is time to accept it is a reality.

I have dreams. I have ideas. I want to move forward. I want to not fear that I will fail. I want to not fear that I will fall.

There are choices in our lives. No one has control over our choices. They are left up to us. You make the choice to move forward in life. You make the choice to cut the negative people who only stop you or bring you down. You make the choice to understand that failing is not failure just a step to finding your success. You make the choice to have joy in your life. You make the choice to understand that messy, sweaty, crazy, broken, whole love can not happen if you are pursuing to be ‘enough’. It only comes when you accept that you already are enough and invest the time into nurturing that truth.

Today I choose to be enough. Today I accept that I am flawed and fabulous. Today I accept that my dreams and purpose are one in the same. Today I will be me.

I may not be setting a P.R…..

I may not be setting personal best. I definitely am not improving my pace. Yet, I am definitely getting a stronger mind.

This Sunday morning I went for a walk. My goal: to go a couple of miles.

I picked up my phone and put on some praise and worship and headed out the door to commune with the Creator in nature. My neighborhood, but nature is very much around.

I walked passed squirrels and a fat chicken with furry feet. I saw flowers blooming and trees burdened with blossoms.

20160409_192732.jpgI purposely did not use my Runkeeper app or any others (except Fitbit your steps don’t count if you don’t have your Fitbit, can I get a whoop whoop!) I didn’t look at my Fitbit but once to see if I was close to the miles I wanted.

I walked and walked and I sang out loud to some worship music and I smiled and saw all that was good around me. I was thankful that I had the energy to walk. That I wasn’t nauseous or dizzy or delirious.

I had bathed myself in sunblock and wore extra apparel to prevent sun burn. I sang again, and smiled in the beauty of the day.

I may not have beaten  any of my my past records for walking. I certainly did not jog or wog any of the route, but I hit the 3 mile goal I wanted. I hit it and felt good. I hit it and felt strong. I hit it and still had energy and a smile and a mindset that I am doing good for myself.

My mind is strong. My body will follow. I will rejoice in all the good in life. I will continue to praise. I will continue to share the joy!

20160409_191042.jpg20160409_192747.jpg20160409_192323And yes I did say a chicken with furry feet! Someday I will get a picture!

You are stronger.

Cancercize with Renee B. on Youtube and Facebook.

Come join me!