ONE YEAR Since Treatment! ALL IS GOOD!!!

March 20th was exactly one year since I completed treatment. It brought up a lot of emotions … gratitude and happiness but also sadness, and anxiety. I’m so very grateful to be alive and in remission. I recently had a CT which came out clear. I was relieved and overjoyed the day I got my results but soon after my brain started thinking too much. Maybe it was because my Mom told me about her friend’s daughter whose cancer has come back 2 years later. It wasn’t breast cancer but still it makes me think too much. How did that happen? What was her initial diagnosis and prognosis? What was the treatment she received? All of this so that I can tell myself it was different from my situation and I will survive another 20 years! Right now I am only thinking as far as August where I will be 2 years from diagnosis. With each year the chance of recurrence goes down but with breast cancer it can come back at any time. Making it through 5 years doesn’t mean that you are cured, like some other cancers. Great.

I also read again that women who exercised had a higher 10 year survival rate. I’ve started to exercise a little more but to do 3-5 hours a week is not easy when you are not 100%. I still have fatigue and I get sick every month which puts me out of commission for 7-10 days. UGH! Recovering has been slow but I am getting my energy back. I notice an increase in energy every 3 months or so. I now sleep 9.5 hours on average and 7 hours feels like I’ve slept for 4. Oh well, that’s still better than before!The fatigue is difficult for people to understand. It’s an overwhelming exhaustion that hits you like a wave. At least that’s how it is for me. I can make it through the day now but usually can’t do too much in the evening. If I have evening plans I have to nap or rest in the afternoon. My days usually have to be planned. I also have to cook earlier in the day otherwise it doesn’t happen. Thank God for my Mother!!

The thought of going back to work makes me nervous. Not because of work itself but because I don’t know how I am going to manage getting enough sleep, exercising 3-5hrs/week and preparing meals and eating healthy, all while working full time. Maybe I can request working 4 days as my permanent schedule. I would also then only get 80% of my salary but if I can manage on that then maybe it’s worth it. Going back to work is 6 months away at this point so I will evaluate how I am feeling in about 4 months.

Making it to ONE YEAR post treatment is a victory and I am going to think positive, focus on living healthy and getting to my next milestone of 2 YEARS since diagnosis. That will be August 6, 2015.

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Not gonna stop Living My Life

As I mentioned before I am planning a trip to London, Paris and a few cities in Italy. I’m so excited and looking forward to this trip!! The friend that I’m going with wanted to confirm our dates so that she could book her ticket. She’s coming back earlier than I am so we might also be flying there separately. While on the phone I mentioned to her that I went to see my oncologist and now have mild Lymphedema. I was a little down after leaving the hospital. I think because it was a reminder of everything that’s happened in the past year and a half. It’s not life threatening and causes more discomfort than anything else. I did have a bit of pain but that’s gone. My wrist is a little swollen and I’ve been wearing my compression sleeve. I knew there was a chance this could happen but I guess I was hoping it wouldn’t. It is something that can happen when your lymph nodes have been removed and also damaged by radiation. I had both. 

The friend without knowing much about Lymphedema said to me that maybe I shouldn’t be traveling and maybe I should cancel the trip. WHAT?!! My initial response was that I’m not going to stop living my life! She kept going, saying my health comes first. Does she think that I wouldn’t put my health first?! My health has been the priority since this whole ordeal started! Lymphedema is nothing to cancel a trip over and by August it will probably be gone. She then went on to say maybe I shouldn’t travel for the next year or so also because of the surgery. What the F@!$ is she talking about??? What does my surgery have to do with anything?! I’ve been on 4 trips since treatment ended and have been fine. A little tired afterwards but perfectly fine. I told her this. She was still worrying and continued with her Debbie Downer commentary and unsolicited advice. I then said I’d call my doctor and ask my cousin who is a surgeon and familiar with Lymphedema. I realized I was saying it to shut her up and had no intention of calling either of them. The following day I told her that my cousin said it was fine to travel as long as I wore my compression sleeve. I didn’t ask my cousin. Mentioned to my brother who is a physiotherapist and he said exactly that. She felt reassured. I also told her that she didn’t need to worry about me, I know what’s okay for me and what isn’t. Also that I intend to continue living my life without constant worrying. She didn’t respond. 

The entire conversation pissed me off. I think it’s because I didn’t like the fact that someone who isn’t that close was telling me how to live my life! She’s not my doctor or my mother. Who is she to tell me to reconsider my trip?!?! If anything I want to do even more with my life than before. I want to enjoy everyday and live a full, rich and happy life. I’ve been doing a pretty good job. I want to travel as much as possible. I still can’t believe she said that maybe I shouldn’t go. UGH!!! That was not concern, that was her not wanting to inconvenience herself if something happened. You may be thinking that I’m assuming but it was what she was saying and that’s what my gut is telling me. One thing I’ve learned is to trust my instincts. It’s disappointing that she would behave that way but I’m not shocked. This whole experience has taught me a lot about myself and others. Some good, some bad. 

I’m still going to enjoy the trip. I’m not letting her or anyone ruin things for me. Just because she is a worry wart and angry about what happened to her several years ago doesn’t mean she has to rain on my parade. I’m doing well and I’m not going to stop living my life! I hope she isn’t like this while we are traveling. BUT when people show you who they are, you should remember that and not expect them to be someone different. So she will probably be that way on our trip to some extent. As long as it’s minimal I’ll ignore it. 

5 MONTHS TO GO … LONDON PARIS ITALY!! πŸ˜„

Lymphatic Cording

Does the post op trauma never end?! It’s been just over a year since I had surgery and my arm and shoulder have had issues on and off ever since. Recently these issues have gotten worse. I’ve been dealing with FROZEN SHOULDER for the past few months. I’m still going to physiotherapy and massage therapy. It’s getting better but it’s a slow process. Last week I noticed pain in my wrist area, which progressed and when I straighten my arm there is pain from the axilla all the down my arm to my wrist. This happened several months ago and resolved in a few weeks with stretching. It’s now come back and seems to be a bit worse than the last time. My forearm is swollen and in pain. It seems to be from LYMPHATIC CORDING or AXILLARY WEB SYNDROME. The below explains a little bit about what it is.

“Axillary web syndrome (AWS), also known as cording, sometimes develops as a side effect of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) or axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Both procedures involve removing just a few (SLNB) or many (ALND) of the axillary, or underarm, lymph nodes. Most people with breast cancer need to have at least one of these surgeries. Scar tissue from surgery to the chest area to remove the cancer itself also can contribute to cording.

If you develop axillary web syndrome, you’ll often be able to see and/or feel a web of thick, ropelike structures under the skin of your inner arm. Lymphedema therapists often call these “cords.” (In some cases, you may not see or feel the cords, but sensations of pain and tightness will tell you they are there.) You may first notice them when you’re doing something that involves raising your arm to shoulder level or above your head. If it happens, cording typically occurs anywhere from several days to several weeks after your surgery, although there have been individual cases where it appears many months later.” – breastcancer.org

I’m trying to exercise 3-5 times a week but when in pain with arm/shoulder issues it can make it very difficult. I’ll try to continue my modified workouts and hopefully at some point things will get back to normal or should I say my new normal.

All of this is exhausting. Every time I start to feel better and feel like I’m making progress something else happens. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Since November I’ve been sick (cold/flu) every few weeks. Each time I get sick it takes me forever to get better so then it feels like 1 step forward 2 steps back. On top of all that, the emotional effects of everything are also there to deal with. SIGH … Right now I feel drained. Part of that is because I’m physically really tired. Didn’t get enough sleep last night. That never helps.

At the end of the day, I’m still here living my life and I’m happy! πŸ™‚
Looking forward to dinner with a friend tomorrow and also excited planning my trip to EUROPE in August. London Paris Milan Rome and Florence! Can’t wait!!

To be or not to be A MOMMY!?

For some reason today’s been a difficult day. Actually, let me correct that, today I had some difficult moments. The entire day overall was fine. I’ve learned not to let things get to me and have gotten better at letting things go! Since I’ve applied these strategies I’ve been a much happier person.

Woke up feeling good and actually woke up early which is tough since I still sleep 9.5 hrs on average. This is normal for me right now and is slowly getting better so hoping that another 6 months and I’ll be down to 8 hrs. Again I wish that someone, like my previous oncologist had mentioned this. Oh well I’ll ask my new oncologist how long this dreadful fatigue could potentially last.

Back to my difficult day. I was in the shower and for whatever reason starting thinking about my cousins, my brother and their kids. I’m referring to the cousins I’m close to as I see them often even though they don’t live here. There are a few weddings this year and if possible we will all be there. Although I don’t think everyone will be at each wedding. Even still what happens is, when my cousins and brother are there with their kids and then there’s just me, I feel very excluded. Because their kids are all younger it feels worse. Then along with that, I’m sure there are people judging me and some feeling sorry for me. Don’t need anyone’s pity, I’m perfectly fine. A lot of people are also so insensitive and have no self awareness. This makes things tough because I could be fine and someone could say something thoughtless and then all of a sudden I will feel very sad about not having any children. Thanks to Breast Cancer I never will. The gift that yet again keeps on giving.

I’ve accepted this part of my story but I have moments where I want to be Mommy and not just Aunty. Especially when it’s always around me. I’ve made new friends who don’t have kids and even met up with an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in 20 yrs. It was so nice to see her! She is also single with no kids. So we were able to relate on a lot of different levels. She also wants to just travel and maybe even move from here. We were so on the same page haha.

I really am fine and this was just a bad day. Tomorrow is a new day. Who knows what exciting things will happen!

It’s OK … I’m HAPPY I’m Alive!!!

I wrote this last JUNE … Summer is here and with that comes summer clothes that are less bulky, where it’s noticeable that I have one breast. The radiated skin is sensitive and wearing a bra for too long is uncomfortable. Because I don’t have big breasts, most of the time I’ll just wear a sports bra and tank top … Like right now as I’m getting a pedicure. I’m also socializing a bit more now so it was time to finally get the prosthesis I’ve gone without for 6 months! Sometimes I’d just put some material in my bra and it worked lol. Oh well … It’s OK, I’m happy I’m alive!
I’m now living in the suburbs with my parents and will be in my own place and still out of the city for at least another year. It’s OK … I’m happy I’m alive!!
Was so interesting to read what I had written 3 months post treatment!

I’m so glad that I started writing this blog. It got me through some rough days since writing helped get it out. It’s also something others can read, whether it’s something they can relate to or whether they’re learning about another persons journey through breast cancer treatment and life afterwards. I also love to write so it was (and still is) a great way to document everything. Reading the above reminded me of where I was and where I am now. I will only continue to feel better.

A lot of things still don’t bother me because I’m truly just thankful and happy to be alive. There are a lot of things I don’t care about anymore, insignificant things that may have bothered me in the past. I try to live in the present and not worry about the future as worrying isn’t going to change it. I’m also more focused on doing the things that make me happy!

And as for my one breast, it’s been a year and 2 months since the mastectomy and I don’t really care that much. Yes I want to feel normal again with two breasts, and I don’t want to worry about wearing my prosthesis and thinking about certain clothes that may be too low in the front. Actually I don’t really care about the ‘being low in the front’, I usually will wear it anyways. The hassle of the right bra with the prosthesis is a pain, especially when I want to wear a strapless! Ugh. Still working on that one. I’d like to just look and feel like myself again but if I have to wait another year for the reconstruction it really doesn’t matter to me because I’M HAPPY and GRATEFUL FOR MY LIFE. 😊

Great end to 2014!

It’s December 30th and I’m on my way to Dallas. I got a call yesterday from American Airlines asking if I wanted a non stop flight instead of my connecting flight … no charge. Of course I would! Changed my flight and was able to leave a few hours later. I slept in a little and leisurely finished packing. Lovely. I then went to check in online and was given the option to upgrade to business class for $130. This meant that I got dinner and checked bags would be free. So really that’s like paying an extra $100 for a far more comfortable flight. Uhhhh yeah I’ll upgrade! For a close to 4 hr flight, totally worth it!

I’ve flown business class before but it’s been awhile. For any flight over an 2 hrs I think it’s worth it. You get priority boarding, and once you’re seated they will hang up your coat. The seats are far roomier which is nice. The stewardess brings you drinks (water juice etc) right away and there’s lots of room in the overhead compartments (less people per row). I just finished eating dinner, which wasn’t bad. A nice salad, veggies and roast chicken. I feel quite satisfied and didn’t fill up on crap.

It’s unfortunate that this isn’t the service provided to all patrons on the flight. This little girl was boarding and while walking past me said ‘these seats look nice’. I wanted to say ‘there’s an empty seat here why don’t you stay’. But we all know that’s an impossibility. A big part of upgrading for me was getting a decent meal. Even if it did include a soft chewy chocolate chip cookie at the end :D. This is my splurge as I’ve decided that once Jan 1 2015 is here I’m going to get on track with my eating & exercising and be my FIT HEALTHY self again!!

I am so grateful to have made it through to the end of 2014. It was a difficult year but it only got better. Hopefully 2015 will be even better and I will live to see the end of the next year. I am spending New Years with my lovely cousins (my sisters) and it will be wonderful. A year ago I was depressed and in pain. Had just had surgery and spent NYE watching tv. My parents stayed home with me instead of going to their friends’ NYE celebration. I love them and don’t know what I would have done without them, especially my mother. They are in India right now for 6 weeks on a well deserved vacation. We all deserve splurges and vacations. So if you don’t have anything planned, plan it! Go somewhere close or somewhere far but take a break even if it’s a short one. Take the time away from your busy schedule to enjoy life, to explore and appreciate all the wonderful things around us.

Wishing everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Will talk to you all in 2015! πŸ˜€

Skinny Girl Diaries – The Holidays

I am stuck at 129lbs. The holidays are definitely not conducive to losing weight. In fact a lot of people seem to gain weight at this time. With all the Christmas/Holiday parties and lots of food & drink, and I don’t mean veggies and smoothies! Haha. It’s a wonder we don’t all gain 10 pounds at this festive time. BUT the focus is friends, family and enjoying ourselves with the people we love. Appreciating all that we have and giving or helping those less fortunate.

I’m putting my inner Skinny Girl on hold until the new year. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to gain weight, it just means that my focus will be being happy and healthy and maintaining my current weight instead of feeling crappy about not losing any weight. I’ve also been so busy and sick that I haven’t been able to exercise more than once a week. Yes SICK! The drug withdrawal side effects are terrible!!! I have nausea every other day which prevents me from going anywhere or doing much so of course I’m not going to be working out. Hopefully that will get better soon, I had no nausea yesterday or today so that was good! Woo Hoo!!!

Just so that we are clear being skinny is not the goal, being FIT and HEALTHY is. Skinny Girl just sounds better and it’s a term used loosely meaning FIT HEALTHY GIRL. At least that is how I see it. I’ve gained just enough weight to not be able to fit into a lot of my pants/skirts!! I have all these nice clothes that I cannot get into at the moment. It really sucks! I’m alternating between 2 pairs of jeans and a couple of skirts and the rest of the time since I’m off work, I’m in yoga pants, track pants etc. I really want to emphasize that being skinny is not what anyone’s goal should be. Yes we all want to be slim and sexy but we are all built differently and have different body sizes and shapes. I’m small boned so my healthy weight may be less than someone else’s. That does not mean that she needs to be the same weight as me. FIT and CURVY looks so much more attractive than skinny mini ski and bones. We should aim for a healthy BMI, along with a healthy weight and good amount of muscle with the right amount of body fat. Skin and bones is so not cute!! With that most women lose their breasts and/or butt. Speaking of derriΓ¨res, butt implants seem to be pretty big right now … The booty that I hated as a tween seems to be to my benefit now. Funny how that works.

So to everyone, ENJOY the HOLIDAYS! Eat, drink and be healthy! Don’t go overboard but we all deserve to enjoy and give ourselves a treat. Don’t feel guilty, don’t feel bad about yourself. Be grateful for all that you have and be kind to those around you. Be especially kind to yourself.

I’m going to have a little chocolate now πŸ˜„. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!