To tell or not to tell

Yesterday we were having dinner at my aunts house. I was really tired from not having slept well again so took a nap. Woke up with very little time to get ready so didn’t put on any makeup. Figured it’s just gonna be us it’ll be fine. As we were just about to leave and I was confirming with my mother that it was just us going, she informs me that my great aunt and uncle would be there. What?! I didn’t know this and they don’t know my situation. This is going to be uncomfortable for me. Ugh. Why does my mother not think about how it’s going to make me feel?! Anyhow she didn’t think as usual. I get there and after taking my hat off my aunt is staring at me. I feel so uncomfortable that I’m quiet and not making eye contact with her. I mean as normal as my family thinks I look, it’s because they see me everyday. Anyone else is going to know something’s up. I either wanted to really make a statement or shaved my head because I was going through chemo. Not enough hair has grown back yet for a normal hairstyle. If I knew I could have put on my wig or eyelashes or something! After we left my great aunt asked my aunt if something was going on with me. My aunt now knowing whether it was ok to tell them or not says I was fine. Adding in “you know how Naqia always changes her hairstyle”. The whole thing becomes awkward and uncomfortable for me. Maybe not for my mom or my aunt but they’re not the ones going through it, it’s ME.

I either need to know if other people are going to be wherever we are going and then I can decide whether I want those people to know or not.

A friend of mine came down to buy my old car today. Hadn’t seen him in almost a year and it was nice to see him. He told me I looked great and healthy. Said I didn’t look sick at all. Then he said I’m beautiful 🙂 Every kind word lifts my spirits. He has been a very supportive and positive friend. As have some others. I’m grateful to them all. I have moments when I think about the friends who haven’t been there and it bothers me but I just try to focus on the friends who love me.

Lori who is going through the same thing (who I connected with through my cousin), sent me a card and gift. So thoughtful and sweet of her. She sent me a pink sock monkey she made, and a couple of other lovely things. I’m actually making something for her but we will leave it as a surprise until it’s done.

I will definitely remember those that were there for me through this time. They will always have a special place in my heart.

Insomnia and the cat

My sleeping was getting better but now it’s back to not sleeping again. A couple of nights ago I barely slept so yesterday I was a mess. Going on 3 hours sleep while going through breast cancer treatment is HELL! Part of it is because on the weekends the house is not quiet in the morning so it’s really difficult to sleep in. My 3 year old niece slept over and then there’s my brothers cat which has been here now for 2 years which he was supposed to take back once he moved into a bigger place but still hasn’t. The cat meows endlessly starting at 6am. He’s now moved but just told me this morning they can’t take the cat because it will keep him and the kids up. Basically as usual I am the one suffering the most. My mother is exhausted by the end of the day and forgets or doesn’t have the energy to lock cat in the basement at night. She will now have to every night, since today I again didn’t get enough sleep thanks to the cat and had a horrible headache and pain. Had to take codeine for it. Was so frustrated I started crying. Haven’t been crying as much but I still have moments. He’s such a good cat but he’s totally neglected here because of everything going on.

At least I am not having radiation side effects yet. Right now it feels like I’m just lying there getting an X-ray. Tuesday will be radiation day 3. Starting tonight I am going back to taking drugs to help me sleep. I can’t take being exhausted and in pain anymore. I’m sure it’s also not good for my recovery.

On a happier note I’ve started looking for a place but my condo hasn’t sold yet. I think there are too many units in the building and for whatever reason they’re not selling. I’m going to have to lower the price. I want it sold before the summer. Looking for a place is tiring but also fun. I’m happy that I’m going to have a new place, it will feel like a new start. I also just bought a new car last month and will have new hair :). My hair is growing back (only 1/3 of an inch right now) and is soft and fuzzy … unlike my normal coarse thick hair. I still want to reshave my head so there is none of the chemo fuzz (which wasn’t much but still). I want completely new hair growth.

I am going to try to take a nap now. It’s noon and I’ve been up since 8am. We are going to my aunts house for dinner so I definitely need a nap, especially since I cut down my caffeine. The most I get is the small amount in the green tea I bought. If I’m really tired it does nothing. I think the codeine is kicking in, I feel really sleepy …

Radiation day 1

I have my first radiation therapy session today. I’m a little nervous but nowhere near as scared as I was before chemo or surgery. I do however have to hold my breath for 20 seconds to move the heart as far away from my chest wall as possible. They’ve tested my breathing etc so I’m ok with the 20 secs. Can actually hold my breath for a minute without too much discomfort. The only thing is my throat got dry as my nose is clipped and I can only breath through my mouth during this whole ordeal. Have to remember to have some water prior to.

The radiation oncologist said that he found that natural aloe with baby aveeno on top seems to be the best thing. Anything I use has to be water based. I also read not to take long hot showers as it dries the skin. That sucks since it’s still winter! Would someone in a warmer climate fare better with this? I’m thinking maybe …

I’ve started to feel a little better so I’m not looking forward to feeling worse again … Whatever that worse may be. More fatigue and sunburn-like skin? If that’s all it is I’ll survive. I’ve already gone through worse. 5 more weeks and treatment is done!!! Yes more surgery afterwards but no urgency so I can do that when I feel ready. Of course I don’t want to wait too long to do reconstruction but I need a short break from all this.

Now gotta go eat shower and get ready for radiation …

Mmmm … Smells Good

I’ve always had trouble sleeping even before having breast cancer. My brain is always in overdrive so I tried to find different ways to help me relax. One of the things that works for me is to use body oil with a relaxing scent. I love the chamomile and lavender body oil from bath and body works. I also recently bought the eucalyptus spearmint pillow mist as well. All of it just relaxes me instantly when I smell it. Mmmmm sigh smile. Just smelled my hands 🙂 I also have their orange scented candle which is for energizing. I love it but cannot light it at night. Haha. These are all from their aromatherapy line.

The other thing I used to do was to look at a picture of the beach with the ocean, sand and some trees. I had it posted on the wall at work. When I looked at it I felt myself relax right away. Funny how that happens. This was a previous role I was in. I’m going to find a picture for my bedroom wall.

I am sleeping better and hopefully will continue to, since sleep is an important part of recovery. Although these hot flashes are not helping! I’ll be fine and then all of a sudden I’m so hot I feel like stripping. I usually have to take the top layer of clothing off until I cool down. Ugh.

I also drove to my condo this evening to get my mail and some other stuff. First time I drove downtown in months!! Yayyy! Wasn’t as tired today. Getting out of the house made me feel somewhat normal again. I also went out yesterday to do some errands including buying some shampoo. I use Invati by Aveda which has been working great for my bald head, which now has lots of very short hairs. It’s meant to exfoliate the scalp and isn’t drying, which is great since it’s super cold here!!

Going to bed now with my lovely smelling pillow.

Tired of being emotional all the time

After yesterday I barely slept last night. However I know my parents love me they just have their own issues that make them act in unhealthy, unproductive ways. On the other hand my mother is trying to be more sensitive and has made a lot of sacrifices during this time. She’s the one that does everything. Cooks for me, takes me to all my appointments, bathed me when I couldn’t, gave me emotional support on the days when I was struggling and has been there for me. The problem is nobody helps or takes care of her. Now part of that is her fault because she lets my dad get away with not helping her and also my brother. I feel sorry for her but at the same time she created her own situation. I truly think that most of the time when she’s at home she’s not really happy. Being constantly run down exhausted and frustrated most people would be irritable and negative. However it’s not my fault so I will not tolerate having her take her crap out on me especially right now. Things are a little clearer now that today I’m not overwhelmed with emotion. Anyhow I am going to do my best to respond instead of react and be nicer to her since when I’m annoyed I’m not nice to her which also affects how she is with me. We will see what happens but today was better.

The things about breast cancer is that it can make you super emotional, super sensitive so everything is magnified. I respond to things so emotionally most of the time. It’s only the last few days that I’ve been a little less emotional (minus yesterday). It’s really difficult not to be emotional after thinking you might die, going through chemotherapy where you feel horrible and surgery losing your breast. Oh and it doesn’t end there. I’ve had no life for 6 months, I might have gone into early menopause (hot flashes Ugh) and still waiting to look normal again. Although on a happy note I see little eyebrow and eyelash hairs starting to grow.

Had 2 ct scans today. A full scan to check for mets and then another scan for preradiation so just of my chest area. I was told that the radiation may affect my tissue and skin elasticity so can affect the outcome of breast reconstruction negatively. Great!! The one thing that was supposed to be the silver lining might get messed up. Still staying hopeful as it was likely but not a for sure. I’ll worry about my new breast later.

Tired tired sick tired energized?!

Today was the first day that I actually didn’t struggle to get up and felt like I had energy!! I’ve been so tired since August and then sick for a month along with continuing to be tired that I forgot what it felt like to actually have energy. I was sooo happy today! It’s amazing how my mood just changed. I felt better and not as emotionally exhausted. I felt more positive and happier than I’ve been in a very long time. I forgot what that even felt like. The past year has been hell! Relaxed, positive and happy is something I couldn’t even remember.

I had also joined this online community of women dealing with breast cancer (past or present). On the message board someone had asked the question … ‘When do you stop feeling tired and how do you deal with the constant feeling of fatigue?’ This woman had been tired for 5 years after she was cancer free! Then other people started responding and saying that it hadn’t really gone away for them either but they tried to find ways to manage it. Reading that scared the hell outta me! I think the people on the site responding are the ones that are still fatigued and at home more than someone who is back to living their life normally (their new normal). It’s like when I was on an online message board for women over 40 trying to conceive, most of the women were struggling and sharing their stories. I found out last weekend that an acquaintance just had a baby naturally at 47/48 and last year I met someone who accidentally got pregnant and had a baby at 43. Both these babies were born healthy. Granted that is probably not the norm but it still happens. However, these women are not going on a message board writing about it because they’re not having any issues so don’t feel the need to be online chatting with other women. I think the same goes for the women on the breast cancer community site.

Today made me realize that things can get back to normal. I had forgotten what happy felt like. I am going to do everything I can to get healthy and back to my normal self even if it’s a new normal.

Taking things for granted … No more

I had an appointment with my oncologist yesterday. She gave me a prescription for tamoxifen, which is a hormone blocker. This will stop the estrogen and I guess put me into early menopause. I think I stay on this for 5 years. Ugh that’s a long time but it is what it is. The tumour was very estrogen and progesterone positive, hence stopping the estrogen. Does this mean brittle bones, hot flashes and whatever else comes with menopause and after??? This really is the never ending story. Now I have to figure out what to do to prevent bone density loss. Calcium and exercise is what I know off hand.

I just turned 43. I never imagined this. Then again no one does. You never think that “IT” will happen to you. Whatever that “IT” may be. Bad car accident, no children, cancer … We never think about it happening to us until it does. Now it is me, it’s happened to me. After 6 months of treatment I’m thankful to be alive, thankful that I’m able to drive my car with no pain, that I can take a shower myself and don’t need a sponge bath, and thankful that things are not worse. I’m thankful that I have my mother to take care of me (even though we have our arguments), I’m so grateful that financially I’m fine and have a secure job no matter how long I’m off during this time. I’m also really glad that I’m Canadian and don’t have to worry about health insurance and paying anything. I cannot imagine that at this time. I don’t have to think about whether my insurance will approve reconstruction (which is what I’ve read happens in the US). I’ll be having reconstruction at some point and it’s all part of my treatment plan and I don’t pay a penny. I know the costs vary depending on your health insurance plan but a friends father had cancer and had to shell out $30K. Now I’m not completely clear about the American healthcare system but no one should have to pay anything while they’re going through cancer treatment. Having to have one other thing to think about is just adding more stress, not to mention the financial stress if you cannot afford the cost.

Anyhow, the American healthcare system is a whole other topic for another post. I’m just glad that I’m here and not there. I’m trying not to take anything for granted anymore, down to the little things. All of it should be appreciated and seen as a blessing.

Hair fuzz

It’s been 7 weeks since my last chemo cycle. I have lots of fuzz on my head. Also very short little hairs and stubble. I’m going to shave it off again … I don’t want any of the fuzz that grew during chemo. There’s also some bikini area little hairs. That hair can take as long as it wants to come back! My legs are still smooth though along with my underarms. As for my eyebrows and lashes, still sparse and a few lashes on each eye. I do however see tiny little hairs coming out. They’ll probably take awhile to grow back but as long as they grow back I’m happy. I’ve been filling in my brows and wearing false lashes every now and then. Good thing I’m a part time makeup artist! Even still, putting false lashes on myself is not that easy. It takes me a few times to get them on properly. BUT when it’s all done they look great! It’s weird I’ve gotten so used to seeing my face hairless that when the brows, lashes and makeup are done I think … wow is that what I used to look like?! Thank god for false lashes! 🙂

My throat is finally a little better. Really want this cold to go away. A month?! Really?!

Still sick

What is up with this cold?! I’ve been sick since I had surgery! That was a month ago. The worst part is that every time I start to feel like I’m getting better I start to feel sick again and then I’m right back where I started. My throat is so sore today. It hurts to swallow. This has got to get better soon. I know this has been going around and people have been sick for a month but ugh enough already. I’m recovering from surgery and that’s more than enough. Had lots of cake and sweets this week because of my birthday … starting tomorrow I’m going to get back to healthy eating and trying to get enough sleep.

Other than being sick I had a nice day. My cousin came down to see me with her husband and kids. Took me out for birthday lunch and gave me a card and gift. That was sweet of them. I didn’t feel upset ring around her kids. Maybe because she doesn’t make it seem like all is perfect all the time. She’s real about it. Being a mother is great but there are also those moments that aren’t so great. She wouldn’t give it up but she doesn’t sugar coat things.

I’ve also decided that each week (or two) I will try to do something or change something. Like last week I started making the bed everyday no matter how tired I was. During chemo I wasn’t. Probably because I was in bed half the time! This week it has to be my eating. I’m going to keep a food journal to ensure that I’m eating enough fruits and vegetables. It’s hard when you’re not the one doing the groceries or cooking. My moms been great but she gets tired sometimes and doesn’t have or make the things I want. Birthday bad eating week is over.

Oh I still get angry when I think about my ex. I wish I could just let it go. I have no feelings for him but I want to slap him and tell him exactly what I think of him. I guess I never got that closure. I don’t know how someone could be so horrible. I’m so paranoid and jaded now. Oh well I guess that will fade in time. I need to focus on my health. I need to remember that feeling angry towards him isn’t helping me. I just want to be happy.

Why can’t I sleep …

I’m exhausted all day from the minute I wake up but yet when I go to bed I’m up and unable to sleep. Ugh so frustrating! I don’t want to take drugs to sleep although at times I just do because I can only take so much and get frustrated not sleeping. How do I fix this? I’m thinking back to a time when I slept well. Was two and a half years ago … I had just started my new job and was healthy and happy. No relationship but was focused at work and things were going well. Then six months later as soon as I started dating things went downhill. I’m almost scared to date again. Obviously it’s not something I’m ready to do right now but even later on, it’s something I’m apprehensive about.

Wish my brain could just slow down and relax. Maybe I need to just wake up earlier tomorrow. I’m tired regardless of what time I get up so may as well wake up earlier so that I can sleep. I also have this bad cold, which is going around. Not sleeping isn’t helping me get better. I need to sleep.

On a happy note I’m recovering well. Couple of weeks ago it felt like I wouldn’t be able to straighten my arm without pain or lift it above my head but now I can. It’s getting better, slowly but surely.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.