Friday, July 22, 2016

What a Ride

 
It's been quite a ride these past 5 years.  So much has happened that I should be in a corner shaking or sitting somewhere singing nursery rhymes.  Believe me, I wanted to check out emotionally and did a few times to survive them.

Besides my personal journey (breast cancer and such), I've had several family members die.  Most unexpectedly and with much grief.  Unfortunately, trying to stay strong for other family members, friends and my other loved ones, I never got a good chance to grieve and come to terms with who I am now that they are all gone.

Let me recap...

· December 2010 - my sister, Maureen "Mo", died in her sleep hours after I spoke to her on the phone.  It was tragic and took all of us by shocking surprise.  I drank a bit, cried a lot, and wallowed to cope. Then I had to stop my grieving to continue my life.
· April 2011 - the reason this blog was started
· July-August 2011 - my Uncle Bobby becomes terminal and dies during my chemo treatments.  I do the best I can for him under the circumstances.  His death still haunts me.  I wanted to be there for him every step, but my own health prevented it.
· 2012 -  2 good friends died.  One from lung cancer, another from a ripe old age of 97!
· April 2013 - My Father has a stroke and dies within hours.  This is the death that will make me cry just at the mention or thought of it.  Tears are welling up now.  I Loved my Daddy so much. Once again, I feel there was more I could've done for him and his Alzheimer's. 
    • Jan 2013 – Mo’s boyfriend, Bob, succumbs to his illnesses.  I’m sure the #1 cause was his broken heart.
· 2014 – Chris moves to Charlotte for a new position with Microsoft.  We live apart for a year, seeing each other when we can. It’s a difficult, emotional year.  I do everything I can to “avoid” my feelings.
    • A co-worker dies from pancreatic cancer. 
    • Oct-Dec 2014 - My Mother’s health begins to get worse.  I realize if I hadn’t visited her the weekend after her birthday, she would’ve died.  I had her taken to the hospital and the ER doctor told me as such.  Her journey begins to end.
· Feb 2015 - My Mother dies from CHD after months of battling illness & rehab. I care for her in her last days, keeping her medicated & clean. I got her last hug and saw her last breath.
    • Mar 2015 – car accident. 
    • Oct 2015 -  My Brother, Michael, dies after a two-year battle with rectal cancer.  His pain was horrible. I’m glad I was there for him and my sister-in-law.

I am left haunted from these deaths because the core family members in my life are now gone.  I know I have two sisters and plenty of other family, but the ones who have raised you and given you their unlimited love are the ones you will miss the most.

Don't get me wrong, now.  MANY good things & happy events occurred during these 5 years as well! 

· We went to Ireland after my lumpectomy for 3 1/2 weeks!
· I beat my cancer; I went to P/T to get strong again; I made it through treatments
· My husband brought me to St Thomas in January 2012 as an -end-of-treatment treat!  We also went on several other awesome trips (PR, Salem, NC, Key West, VT MA, FL, GA, MD,
· Our son graduated High School. We helped my parents move to a smaller home
· I had my gall bladder out June 2012 - apparently a cause of several issues I had during treatments.  Better late than never!  I also had a parathyroidectomy Dec. 2014. 
· I went on a Wine Trail in the Finger Lakes with my dearest friend, Nancy.  I also took a trip to Salem with Rebecca and a road trip with Ali.  Plus, several day trips with friends and my cousin, Patricia. Even made a gingerbread house with Wendy for the Gingerbread Wonderland Contest.
· I worked a lot at the schools, got a f/t job in Athletics at the High School, and volunteered a lot for H.S.A. fundraisers, the Arboretum, church, and such.  Saw some plays and a few concerts.
· Watched my son, Kurt, grow into a young man, graduate Precision Machinist school, get a f/t job, a car (on his own), and move out at 22.  There aren’t enough words to express how proud I am of my guy.
· We get some improvements done on the house.  We attend Bat-Mitzvah’s, weddings, graduations, my Aunt & Uncle’s 50th Anniversary, and other happy events.  I even win a radio contest.
· Chris’ job gets better each year.  He comes home a year after his NC venture.  I fall in love with my husband all over again, and again, and again…

I started feeling empty, worthless, and just plain melancholy around November 2015.  I was crying uncontrollably every day.  I realized I hadn’t properly grieved my losses and pain these past years.  I was always being strong for others; keeping a stiff upper lip; losing myself in work and caring for those who remained behind until they were all gone.  There was no one left to care for.  No one left to remind me who I was.  Yes, I still have MANY in my life who matter, but all this loss made me wonder who I really was.  I needed to rediscover me.

I began by seeking professional help.  I saw a psychiatrist and then settled with a local therapist.  Somewhere in between I got some chemical help.  Thank God, because I finally stopped crying every day!  My sessions are going very well.  I’m able to identify who I was and am – to others and to myself.  I’ve come to terms with my “caregiver” and “always-available” sides.  I’m learning how to say, “No” and take myself under consideration for once in my life.  That’s what I’m finding…MY LIFE!  It’s still a journey.  I pray I find my inner peace again.
 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4/29/2011 The Email

Hiyah,

Time to let everyone in on what’s been going on with me medically for the month of April…and why I’ve been off the radar (and the map) for a month...  I’m telling you all via email, cause it’s a lot of info and easier to type once (yeah, I know) and answer questions based on the “same story” I’ll have to tell repeatedly.

 On Sat. 4/9, I went for my annual mammo at the local Morristown Rippel Breast Ctr .(a GREAT place to start what happens next).   On Monday the 11th, I got a call to go back in for follow-up mammos.  I’ve never been called back, so I immediately got worried.

On Tuesday the 12th, I got 50 gagillion (that mean s a LOT) mammos on my left breast only and was then sent for an ultrasound.  It was then I was told they found “a mass” that “looked cancerous” so they wanted to do an immediate biopsy.  It was a small mass, but big enough to do an ultrasound biopsy that afternoon. So we did.  Bruising, uncomfortable for a few days (and smelly after the 3-day no shower!), but relieved it’s done.

Thurs the 14th I got a call telling me something no one wants to hear, “We’re sorry to tell you, your biopsy came back positive for cancer and is malignant.” It’s called Invasive Lobular Cancer or ILC. Only 10% of women get this kind and it can very serious. So, I keep my cool on the phone and take their advice to call my OBGYN for a Breast surgeon referral. They give me a couple “specs” on the cancer too. OK, reality sets in, I get choked up, say Thank You, and hang up.  Chris was away in DC and Kurt was in school, so I was all alone with my “news.”  I could cry massively alone or continue on by making the OBGYN call.  So, I do.  My Dr. is off for the day, but I ask who they usually recommend then call that office next.  I get the appt. & ask if they will want an MRI as well & am told yes.  So I ask who to schedule that with so I can get it all over with the following week.  It’s then I get upset again and call Nancy – who comes to my rescue with the hug I so desperately needed. Thank you, Nancy. J


Following week:  Weds., 4/20, I meet with the surgeon, Dr.  Leah Gendler.  Long story short…Right breast is GOOD & Dr. said that I “have the best behaved breast cancer” I could get.  Yeah, weird, but excellent!  Here are the good things:  It’s Estrogen Receptor + 100%, Progesterone Receptor + 100% (both mean I can skip chemo), Her-2 negative (meaning non-aggressive), <1cm in size, VERY slow replicating (Ki67=<8%) & has not spread to anywhere else (like my lymph nodes). It’s stage 1A (non-lymph node) grade 2 (moderate cell growth).  So it’s operable (lumpectomy) and can be radiated afterward.


Never a dull moment…The Thurs. 4/21 MRI found 2 more spots in the left breast – smaller than the first.  One is a “satellite” of the first (<2mm), so they’ll grab that with the first lumpectomy.  The 2nd spot (<3mm) we did an MRI core biopsy on Weds. 4/27 cause they can’t see it very well with ultrasound.  That biopsy is more invasive and took much longer.  I slept the rest of the day after I was put in what I called a “Quaker binding and bra”.  I haven’t looked this small in the chest in 16 years!  So now I await these biopsy results (hopefully next week).  Chris goes to Jacksonville next week, so once again I’ll be getting results on my own. L  This time, I’m prepared and not as bummed cause I know everything’s gonna be fine.


So, lumpectomy(s) scheduled for 5/16, followed by healing, Ireland (6/13-7/6), then radiation for 6 weeks when I get back.  NO CHEMO!!!  I will also be taking a tamoxifen regiment (hormone therapy) to decrease the estrogen levels and keep any cancer from coming back.  It’s a 5-yr program and some side effects include menopause symptoms (like I wasn’t gonna get them anyway).  Lovely, but I’ll take it!!!  So, keep POSITIVE WAVES coming my way (smiles, love, prayers) and feel free to pass along my insights below!

LOVE YOU ALL!!  Will let you know the MRI biopsy & any other test results when I get them!!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

9/28/2012 -- Gifts & Losses

I went to my 3rd breast cancer symposium today.  I find them very informative and therapeutic.  I also get to meet new people, converse with other survivors, get tips from them and even some recipes!  Today, one of the speakers, Debbie Woodbury (founder of WhereDoWeGoNow.com), gave her personal experiences and how she would list her Gifts and Losses as a result of her experience with cancer and treatments.  She encouraged us to do the same, so here are some of mine (not in any order of importance):

 

GIFTS
LOSSES
·        My support group
·        Remission!
·        GREAT surgeon, oncologist & radiation Dr’s
·        Great insurance plan (coverage/PT…)
·        Knowing who loves & supports me
·        I wanna give back
·        Caught cancer before it got worse
·        Meeting new people & not caring who I know or what I wear
·        Blogging my experiences
·        Got closer to my mother-in-law, Breda
·        Loss of hair humbled me
·        More “us” time with my hubby, Chris
·        I take better care of myself
 
·        2011 lost in a sea of drugs
·        Times I yelled at my son & husband (see above)
·        My Dad still thinks I have cancer – he’s stuck in 2011
·        Mourning my sister
·        My Norm (stamina) & physical self
·        Loss of patience for others
·        Natural menopause
·        Burden I put on family, especially after Mo’s death
·        Inability to see my Uncle before his death
·        Loss of hair & self-esteem
·        “exercise” partners
·        Understanding from others

 

 

Friday, August 10, 2012

8/10/2012 LISTEN to me!!

So, we’re 6 weeks our from the gallbladder removal.  Pretty much all the symptoms are GONE!  Now my liver’s just adjusting to distributing bile on its’ own.  Pathology came back…another 1-2 years and it would’ve burst, so I’m VERY GLAD I listened to my body and got it removed!  So, when your body starts telling you something....LISTEN!

I’m enjoying the summer heat (having missed it completely last year) and going away on little trips to further help me make-up for lost time.

I still get frustrated at what I can’t do yet, but know it’ll come in time.


Friday, June 29, 2012

6/29/12 Pain in the A$$!!

Gallbladder removal today – another casualty of my chemo treatments:

As my faithful blog-readers know…Last year I was having horrible pain, bloating, GI issues, pain in my back, etc…we just thought it was a chemo/treatment reaction.  So, when the problems persisted then got worse in March/April I looked all the symptoms up then put them together.  They all pointed to gallbladder!  So, I went to my oncologist & surgeon with this info and they both concurred and said it was common for women in my age group (35-50) to have their gallbladder removed within a year of chemo.  LUCKY ME!

So, after an ultrasound (to prove no stones or tumors, etc.), upper/lower GI scopes (to prove no tumors or problems), and then a HIDA-scan (to prove my gallbladder isn’t functioning properly – which it AIN’T), I am now insurance-approved to have my nasty little pain in the ass taken out!


So, a year later here I am about to go under the knife again.  I’m bummed, but happy that these pains and problems will go away within a month!!!!  Can you say lower than my already low-fat diet?
with the extended Doherty clan in Tucson AZ

6/21/12 Graduation!!!

Kurt graduated high school today!!!  I felt so responsible for his derailment last year and was ever so stressed about him graduating that I sent my blood pressure up for a year!  Thank you God for this beautiful feeling.

6/23/12 -- Two days later, I’m back to normal BP.  Yes, I’ll say it again…the mind does terrible things to our health sometimes!