Spirit Strong

Stay positive, have no fear and you can beat anything!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Flow of Time...

It has been nearly 2 years since my last post. Far too long. I've decided to revisit this blog because I needed to and to try to help those who stumble upon it.

Recent events have caused me to relive what had happened to me 3 years ago. Yes, it really has been 3 years since I discovered the cancerous lump. Almost a month ago I found out a close friend of mine in the States was diagnosed with breast cancer. The same kind as mine, opposite breast and a woman with young children. We are only a year apart in age and have known eachother since we were 14 years old. She's like a sister to me and to have to see her go through this just confirms how unforgiving this disease can be. It does not know any boundaries, age or situations. It just invades and tries to do as much damage before it's "found out". Fortunately she has caught it in the very early stages but it's still not fair she has to go through this. Due to this recent news I've decided the time had come to get off my arse and return to this blog.

Before I continue I need to recap briefly the past 2 years. I had left off at a mammogram appointment and that went well. Check ups between the surgeon and oncologist went well too. Then at the end of September of last year at an oncologist appointment she was feeling deep within my scar area in the breast and asked if it always felt this way. I had a bit of hardness there. I nodded yes because it felt like it always did. However once I returned home I questioned it and kept feeling the area. Almost came an obsession and I was convinced that I couldn't say for sure if it always felt that way. I panicked and nearly made myself sick with worry. Luckily I had an appointment with the surgeon in less than a week anyway. Even before she felt the area she looked at me, knew I was stressing myself with worry and said, "Why don't I set up an appointment for an ultrasound and a biopsy if needed so that we can put this thing to rest." When she felt the area she didn't seem all that concerned but wouldn't commit neither positive or negative. In November I had my appointment and because of how the scar had healed they couldn't place the ultrasound wand close enough to get a clear cut answer so they decided on the biopsy. I felt I was reliving the whole nightmare over again. After the procedure I collasped in the waiting area where my husband was and lost it. The technician who attended to me came out for break and quickly came over to see if I was okay. Needless to say it was a long week but I knew from past experience that if I hadn't heard from them within the week I was probably okay. But still...the follow up appointment with the surgeon was stressful because I was afraid there was news to tell. Thankfully all was fine, no trace whatsoever of any cancerous cells. But this just proves it will always be in the back of my mind.

I have my yearly mammogram coming up in January and once again I'll go over the same stress and hope that I am given the all clear. I feel I am fine but fear always likes to rear it's ugly head. I have been a bad girl in the sense that I haven't had time to exercise like I used to. My family life has just been too busy. Because of this I've put on weight that I really don't need. I have been thinking about power walking on my lunch hour to get some sort of exercise in. It worries me that I have been so blase about my overall health the past year. I don't want to fall into that old habit of taking my health for granted, that's just too dangerous. Perhaps the news about my good friend is my warning to get myself ship shape again. A wake up call or else.

A year ago I attended a wonderful conference that my Cancer Centre puts on every 2 years. A Breast Cancer Awareness Conference. It is for survivors and it's a day to laugh, attend lectures about breast cancer, nutrition, get pamered and meet other breast cancer survivors. I have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed at first. There were a lot of women there and in every age group. I saw women whom I recognized in the chemo waiting area or doctor's appointments and was relieved to see that they were okay, even though they didn't know who I was. I over heard and talked to other women about my experience and their's. I have to admit at first I wanted to get up and run far from that conference. It was too much for me at first. I really thought I was going to break down and cry. But by the end of the day I was inspired and knew that I wasn't alone.

And that is what I want to relay to my dear friend who must walk down this road now. I want to let her know she is never alone and that a positive attitude and that fight to beat this damn disease will get her through this. Get angry and crush this thing. You'll get through it because your family and friends are here for you. There was a reason you found it early and that is because it's not your time yet. You WILL get through this!!

I am always here for you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Long Overdue Update

I should have posted this earlier but life has been hectic for me the past few weeks. This Friday will be 4 weeks since my mammogram and I have not heard back so I'm assuming everything is fine. Unfortunately the way things work here if you don't hear back it's good news. That is what we're assuming but I just wish either way a quick phone call could be made. However, with a sigh of relief and gratitude it looks like I have the all clear. The next step is my 3 month checkup in March. At that time I'll need to have my liver tested via a blood test. The reason being is that the Tamoxifen can be harsh on the liver so they want to keep an eye on things. I also have a checkup with Dr. Reid (surgeon) in March.

Okay everyone join me in a big sigh of relief.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I meant to post earlier but life has kept me busy the past couple of weeks. There was another first. January 11th marked the 1st anniversary of my 1st chemotherapy treatment. I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. I remember how I felt, what happened, what my body felt like, my thoughts, my fears. I won't go over it again here as you can read back to my past blog posts about it. It was a good learning experience but I definitely do not want to go through that ever again.

On Friday, January 19th I had my first mammogram since November 2005. To say I was scared was an understatement. The week leading up to it was nerve wracking. My stomach was in knots. I knew in my heart I was fine but part of you doesn't want to relax or trust that feeling. Thank goodness my husband came with me. On our way there I cried and whimpered out, "I'm so scared". I had to get it out and allow myself to be scared. Everything happened so quickly. As soon as I checked in I was taken to the room to change. There was one other woman waiting there and she was only waiting to see if they needed to take more x-rays. Luckily enough, I had a great techician with a wonderful sense of humour. I told her I was scared and she reassured me there was nothing to be scared about and that I would be fine. She said they are gentle with women who have had surgery on their breasts. I said to her it must have been a male who invented the mammogram machine. She laughed and said that they have done mammograms on males. Try to imagine that! Anyway, after we were done she had me sit in the change area to wait to see if she needed to take more x-rays. I think my stomach was doing back flips at this point. I turned to where the magazines sat and saw a purple lilac plant. I knew this was a sign from my best friend. Not only was that her favourite plant but also her favourite colour. I knew she was with me at that moment. I started to relax a bit. Within a couple of minutes which seemed like 15 the techician returned to say the x-rays turned out beautifully and she didn't need to take more pictures. I asked her how long would it be for the results. She said about a week. I asked if it was the same old procedure where if something was wrong my doctor would call. She said she would be the one calling and I would have to come in to have more x-rays done. She said if I didn't hear from her by Thursday then everything was fine. Then she said, "Looking at your x-rays here...your left breast looks clear and all I see in your right breast is scar tissue. But, the radiologist will still have to look at it". I know she wasn't supposed to say that but I think she knew how scared I must have looked like to her. I still take what she said with a grain of salt, that's just me. Even though I did relax a bit I won't completely relax until Thursday has come and gone. Never mind Thursday, I probably won't relax until Monday afternoon.

*fingers crossed* that everything is fine. I spent the week prior using visualization. I worked out extra hard at my exercise club as my way of telling the Universe I am a fighter.

I have to admit that after the mammogram a rush of emotions came over me. I was transformed back to the time of the first mammogram in 2005 where I knew in my heart I had cancer. Not only did I have a mammogram but also an ultra sound. They also had to take extra x-rays of my right breast. I went to that appointment alone. I thought I would be fine. My advice to any women going through breast cancer is NEVER, EVER go to ANY appointment alone. NEVER! Even though there will be times where that support person cannot come into the room with you it doesn't matter. Just knowing they are out there with you is so comforting to know. I wasn't fine after my first mammogram. I was SO scared and felt so alone. It's also a comfort to come out after having that done to feel a hug or kiss. My thoughts rushed back to this after this recent mammogram. I found myself getting upset all over again. I'm sure part of it was just my way to also release tension.

I want to send a special, hug filled THANKS to "R" for sending me the text message on the day of my mammogram. You are so special and I appreciated your support, love and thoughts at that moment. You'll never know how much it really meant to me. It felt as though you were right there with me. Thank you so much again. *BIG HUG*

I'll let you all know the results. Keep those fingers crossed folks.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

6 Month Checkup

I've crossed another landmark - my 1st 6 month checkup. To say I was nervous is an understatement. The mind can play terrible head games. I tried to overcome that this morning when I was working out. The morning workout girls were complementing my "new" hair cut. They don't know what I have been through the past year and sometimes I wished I had told them because they are such a wonderful, strong group of women. But even though they do not know their energy was enough to give my head a shake. As I worked out I kept looking over at the Curves workout philosophy. The one that has always stood out is "visualize it". One of these days I must get a copy of the entire thing because it's an inspiration. So this morning I decided to go back to my visualization. I was still nervous at my appointment but managed to relax a bit.

I had Dr Russell, again, a wonderful woman. This woman oozes warmth and care. She checked my breasts, lympoids under the arm pits, groin and throat areas. She said everything felt fine and normal. *whew* Of course it is still up to me to check on a regular basis and I do. We chatted for a bit and I asked a couple of questions. One of which involves the drug I am taking for the excess estrogen my body is producing called Tamoxifen. I asked how we would know the drug was working, through a blood test? Will a blood test show my levels lower? The drug actually acts as a blocker and since I am having hot flashes etc... then we know it's working. I told her my periods returned on Nov 11th and she mentioned that is good because when I have my period my estrogen levels decrease. I'm sure all this was told to me months ago but this just proves to always ask even if you've been through it numerous times. You are bombarded with so much information that you tend to forget answers. Or bring a friend along to write everything down. One of the things the doctor told me to do was to relax. It's natural to feel scared especially months after treatment ends. She said a lot of women think of themselves that first year as a boat being set adrift to sea. She said to me to think, "I'm better now and will stay that way". Her pep talk helped me today, I'm so grateful I saw her today. Again, something was looking after me. I found out that I lost another 6 lbs even with all the Christmas over eating so I was quite pleased with that.

My mammagram has been booked for January 19th in the morning. Once again the doctor told me to keep in mind this mammagram is to get a new baseline as to how my breast looks. My breast has gone through many changes due to the surgery and then radiation. She said not to get stressed out when they come back and say they need to take more pictures of the breast. She said chances are it doesn't mean they see cancer but because of the radiation changing the breast so much they need to get more pictures. I know she has told me not to worry but it's only natural to worry a bit. I see it as another emotional hurdle to get over. To say I won't worry would be a lie. I was also told that for breast cancer patients they like to see us every 3 months not 6 months the first year which suits me just fine. My next appointment will be in March and prior to the appointment I will have to get blood work done to check my liver. Tamoxifen can cause damage to the liver so they like to keep track of it.

As I mentioned several times, my life will never be the same but it's all good because I have a great team looking after my well being. And the key word is "well". That is my focus for 2007. One step at a time each day.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's official...

...as of yesterday at 10:30 a.m. I am WIGLESS!! Freedom at last!! :-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another anniversary

A year ago today I was at the hospital getting ready for my lumpectomy. When I was at my exercise club this morning I kept thinking back to how I felt that day and where I am now. My right breast will never look the same again and I will always have two long scars as my reminder of how far I've come. I remember thinking how scared I was that day and the months to follow. After the surgery I felt like crap. I've never been through surgery before or been under general. I think they gave me too much and when I was asked if I was in pain (after I woke up) I said no. The nurse's response was, "well, we'll give you some morphine anyway". HUH? I thought but felt too sick and weak to protest. I rather go through chemo than go through that again.

I had an opportunity this weekend to see people I haven't seen in 2 years, most of whom read this blog. I want to say to all of you how great it was to see you again and your long, strong hugs spoke millions to me. I could feel your love, support and friendship and it just made me feel so good. One of you apologized for not calling during this past year and I said that was okay because I knew in my heart all of you were thinking of me. I've always been able to pick up on energy and I certainly felt it from all of you this past year. Thank you for standing next to me as friends, behind me when I felt weak and in front of me when I needed more energy.

My 6 month check up is coming up soon on the 27th, I think it just involves a breast exam and talk with the oncologist. *fingers crossed for the best* On Dec. 21st I am returning to the hair salon where I bought my wigs and getting my hair trimmed and cleaned up. After that NO MORE WIG!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A year ago...

November 6th marks the date in which I found the lump in my breast - one year ago. Life was never to be the same for me again. I have not said this to many of my friends especially those who kept telling me it wasn't cancerous but I knew deep in my heart it was cancer from the moment I felt the lump. Your instincts tell you and as much as you want to ignore it you know you're right.

The past couple of days I have been thinking back to that moment and reliving the weeks which followed and my state of mind. I have never been so scared in my life. I can't tell you the amount of crying I did especially when it was confirmed it was cancer after the biopsy. For the first time in my life I felt as though I was face to face with death. Little did I know that in a few months time while going through chemotherapy I would "feel" the process of death.

From where I stand today I can say I am proud of how I managed to get through it all. I realize now I was given a second chance at life. My warning had been given and now the rest is up to me. I thank the Universe every day for my second chance.

Part of me still gets scared but I think that is natural. I have a checkup with the oncologist at the end of December and I'm supposed to have a mammagram done in January. It'll be stressful but I know I can get through it and just as my instinct last year told me it was cancer it also still continues to tell me that everything will be just fine now.