Finished chemo … 1 Year Ago!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my last chemo cycle. November 27, 2013 will be forever etched in my brain along with my diagnosis date, surgery date and treatment end date. I read my post from this day last year … wasn’t as bad as I expected. Maybe I was just so happy that it was my last one and chemo was over! I wish I knew then that a year later I’d be OK. I guess I really wasn’t thinking that far ahead since I still had surgery and radiation to go through. And let’s not forget the fact that I still had the chemo nasty side effects coming. The day of treatment was never really that bad. I’d usually feel really sleepy and physically fatigued but it gets worse the next day and then continues. I do actually remember my last cycle and what happened after. It was horrible, horrible, horrible! Pain in my bones, complete exhaustion, blisters in my mouth, burning tongue … TAXOTERE is a nasty drug. I was injected with toxic chemicals for 18 weeks! It feels surreal at times but I got through it and I’m still here! I wish I knew that I’d still be here. I wish I knew that I’d feel better emotionally. I wish I knew that I’d be happy and enjoying my life even though I’d still be recovering. It’s funny how at that time all I was trying to do was get through the day and then get through the next day. Well I got through 365 days!

It’s still one day at a time and I kind of like it better that way. Helps me live in the moment! I’m happier and I think on my way to being healthier than before. So we will see what I’ll be saying this time next year. I think after all the bad there’s lots of good to come!

Skinny Girl Diaries … Week 1

Well week 1 of trying to lose weight has not gone so great. I mean it hasn’t been bad but I didn’t lose the 1lb I was supposed to. Yes my weekly goal is 1 pound, that’s all I can handle right now. I guess on the up side I haven’t gained any weight either and managed to work out twice. The working out has to be planned in advance as I still feel wiped out after my workouts. Regardless, it should still be planned so that it’s already a scheduled part of my day and not something I’m trying to squeeze in. If that happens, it is too easy to make excuses to get out of doing it. The other thing that needs to be planned is my grocery shopping and food prep. This is something I didn’t do and last week when I was out doing errands all day I ended up buying unhealthy snacks on the go. Turned into a terrible eating day.

So tomorrow I will figure out my meals for 3 days and get my groceries. The day after I will prep 3 days of food. I know some people prep for the week but with still having fatigue I don’t know if I can handle that. So best to start small. 3 days it is!

Oh and in case I didn’t mention I used to be 118 pounds prior to my diagnosis. Now I am 132 pounds and healthier. I’d like to get to 120-123 so the goal is to lose 10 pounds.

Did I also mention that eating healthy and exercise helps your skin, keeping you looking young and vibrant! This girl at a skin care kiosk thought I was 27!!! Wow I’m 43! I’m sure part of it was my casual attire but she said I had great skin and started asking “how do you do it, what’s your secret?”. I really didn’t know what to say, after going through a year of ‘hell’ I’m surprised I don’t look as old as I feel. Yes I feel like I went from 43 to 83. BUT at the end of it all I was quite flattered and felt great … and then just for a minute I forgot how old I was. 🙂

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Ten days ago was my last day in the office (for now). The funny thing was I started having mixed feelings. It felt strange to be leaving again. I was getting a bit emotional when I was saying goodbye to everyone. I’m not quite sure why … maybe because someone who had breast cancer had recently passed away only a year after treatment, maybe the realization that I’m still not well enough to work full time, maybe feeling like I may never see these people again. I don’t know, maybe a combination of all three. It was unexpected but at the same time expected and understandable. How strange to continue to be overwhelmed with emotion. Now it’s random moments where I don’t know what to do when it happens as I’m usually in a situation where I don’t want people to witness the flood of emotion! I guess all I can do is breathe and tell myself whatever I’m feeling is OK. And really who cares if people see me cry, everything I’ve been through is CRY-WORTHY. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you!

Skinny Jeans

Why is it that the jeans I’m wearing today were too big on me only a few months ago?! Now they fit and no this is not a good thing. These are my FAT jeans. I have somehow gained 10lbs. It’s my eating … and eating and eating! Although it’s usually healthy there have been a lot of birthdays and dinners with cakes and dessert that I just never thought to say no to. Well that has to change otherwise very soon even my fat jeans won’t fit me!!

Being out of commission for close to a year I was completely inactive but still eating (healthy most of the time) to keep up my strength. I gained a few pounds which was fine because prior to that I had gotten too skinny due to stress. When I’m stressed I don’t eat or sleep much. Stress weakens the immune system along with lack of sleep. Then the lack of nutrients doesn’t help. BAD BAD BAD. Initially after finishing treatment I was trying to get my strength and energy back. The fatigue and exhaustion continues even after treatment ends. I started exercising in July (4 months ago) and that was also when I went back to work part time. I started getting a little bigger before due to the lack of exercise/activity but now I’m actually 10lbs heavier. It’s not all fat, some of it is muscle but not all, because my clothes have gotten tighter and things just don’t fit well. We did do an assessment as part of my Rehab program and I haven’t gotten a lot bigger according to my measurements so that makes me feel a bit better.

My strength and energy have increased and I’ve made great progress with my exercises! However for some reason I just can’t seem to lose the 10 pounds I’ve gained. I think part of it is being at work, sitting all day and buying my food through the day. Let’s not forget the 250-300 calorie Starbucks coffee in the morning on the days I’m in the office.

Tomorrow is my last day at work so let’s see if by NYE I can get back into my SKINNY JEANS!

Time for Me, My Health, and I

Got a call from my health management consultant to inform me that my work stoppage has been approved! What a relief!! I’ll be at work one more week to wrap things up and then I’ll be off for a few months. So happy! I can focus on my recovery which means eating healthy (which I do most of the time) and also exercising 5 times a week which I haven’t been able to do. I’m also really excited to finally get my place fully unpacked and organized! Yaaayyyy! Of course I get paid less while off but what I get still isn’t bad. So thankful for this!

I’ve been home sick for two days. Didn’t go to work today. Tomorrow I’m also going to stay home. Resting and having some good food is really helping me feel better! I’ve been preparing more food, more salads and other healthier foods which has been great! I was reading an email I received listing the best Cancer fighting foods. I also attended a webinar at work on the same topic. Don’t think I listed them here but will list both in my next post.

It’s Thursday my favourite tv night. Yes I watch way more tv now haha. Being home for almost a year there was not a whole lot I could do. “Scandal” has gone down on my list and “How to get away with murder” is up! Love that show!! Not what I expected at all.

Hope everyone is doing well! XO

Living in 6 month Increments

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I’m so exhausted with work, exercise, organizing my place and trying to have a life. But at least I am alive and living my life! Last week I found out that a friends sister in law passed away a year after finishing breast cancer treatment. So sad. I am so thankful to be alive and try to appreciate and be grateful for all that I have.

Two weeks ago my oncologist gave me a letter to support being off of work completely for another 4 months. So happy and relieved!! I feel so much better knowing that I can take the time to fully recover and focus on my health. I need to be strong physically, mentally and emotionally before I return to work full time. It’s hard to know how you’re going to feel until you are there. I’ve been back for 4 months and managing my post treatment regimen has been a struggle. I’m also so excited to actually fully unpack and get my place organized. That will also make me feel a lot better! No one tells you that just because treatment is over doesn’t mean that the journey ends. The physical after effects continue and emotionally you also need time to recover. No matter how strong you are it takes a toll. Some people may not show it and everyone deals and reacts to things differently but it takes a toll.
Very soon I can put 100% into my health, well being and recovery.

During the past month I’ve been going through all my follow up tests. Starting with a mammogram last month which of course was painful but at least it was only one side (no breast tissue on the other side). Then after that I had a (low grade) CT scan. Waited over a week for the results which was agonizing but I resolved within myself to be OK with whatever the results were. Finally got a call and both were good!! In fact the mammary node had shrunk. It could have already been my normal mode size but because there’s no baseline we didn’t know for sure. The fact that it’s smaller now it’s a safer to say that the cancer cells have been eradicated. I can’t express how RELIEVED I felt. I was at work and walked into the bathroom because I had tears of joy and needed a minute. Until that point my oncologist had told me that there may still be some Cancer cells there. Not the case anymore. Wooo Hooo!!! A week later I had an MRI and after that an Ultrasound bc something came up in the MRI that they needed to make sure was nothing. The torture of waiting for test results. Ugh! So again the agonizing wait but all turned out fine. EXHALE …

I am so relieved! I will be positive and happy until my next follow up in 6 months. It’s like living in 6 month increments. Living life 6 months at a time. Trying to get to that 5 year mark where you can say you’ve made it that long and are out of the woods. SIGH. Right now I’m 7 months post treatment and alive! So grateful for that.