Monday, September 13, 2010

Instant Hot Flash Relief

Thank you French door refrigerator!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Chemo is over!  I am still pulling confetti out of my purse and it was over two weeks ago.  It was certainly a long road, but I'm feeling great and ready to move on to the next step -- radiation!  I had my first zap yesterday.  It breezed by with no incident.  It's kind of weird -- this is the first time in my second cancer journey that I'm receiving treatment I haven't had before.  I'm told the side effects are tolerable, just fatigue and skin irritation.  Here's hoping it's not bad and whizzes by! 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

For a Minute There I Lost Myself

Whew -- since my last update (real update, I mean) much has happened.  I sailed through my first cocktail of chemo drugs called AC.  It wasn't fun by any stretch, but it was amazing how much easier this experience was compared to my last one.  If anti-nausea drugs can improve so greatly in five years, just think of what other medical advances are right around the corner.  I started another drug, Taxol, in April and was scheduled to finished on June 18th.  Until....

You may remember me mentioning my art bra for the GRAPHIC IV event for the BCRC.  I was very lucky (no really, really lucky) to be chosen as a model for the big runway show to show off my handiwork.  I was having a great time chatting with friends, getting prettied and practicing my walk.  I felt as normal as I could with having chemo the day before.  I remember the event pretty well until the point when we had to line up for the show. Then, I awoke in ICU at Seton Medical Center. Huh? WTF? What happened?  

Apparently, a lot, I'm told.  During my runway debut, I took a seat on the runway and passed out.  Then, my heart stopped working normally.  Lucky for me, this happened in front of my doctors.  CPR, a couple of shocks to the heart (oooh....would "Shot to the Heart" been a better title/song reference for this post?), an ambulance ride and some time in the ER later, I came back from the brink.   I am so very thankful that I don't remember anything.  

I spent a couple of days in the hospital.  After tests and many visits from doctors (Many of them found my husband's new iPad more interesting than my case...initially, at least.), no one is really sure why this happened.  My heart is normal by all accounts.  It just seems that there is something wrong with the electrical system that was perhaps set off by a bunch of factors that were going on that evening.  But we will never know for sure why this happened, which is extremely frustrating. So, I had an internal cardiac defibrillator put in under my pec muscle near my collar bone.  If my heart starts misbehaving, it will get a little shock to get to back to normal.  

So now not only am I a two-time breast cancer survivor, I'm a sudden cardiac arrest survivor too.  Hmmmm...I'm not sure how I feel about this exactly.  But, one this is for sure, I feel extremely lucky and blessed to be here right now.  Things could have been worse.  

I've been contemplating gratitude a lot lately.  And while I will save those thoughts for another post, I do want to say how grateful I am to all the people that helped that night.  Thank you just doesn't seem adequate.  

Here are a couple of articles about the event.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Support System

Cross-post from Pretty Bird Press

Finally! I have finished my art bra for this year's GRAPHIC IV.  I think that it turned out really well.  The title is "My Support System."  So, here's the story behind this bra.  In my former life, I was a book artist.  I thought that a book would be the perfect thing to make into a bra for this event.  After my second breast cancer diagnosis, I received many cards from friends, family and even strangers (thank you, all!).  I kept every card and used them to create the book part of the bra.  Since I had to have my implant removed, I'm flat on my right side.  The book in this bra creates a breast shape.  The rest of the bra is made of paper.  I hope you like it. I do! 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hat Tree

My necklace tree has become my hat tree.

Monday, February 08, 2010

And You Will Know Me by the Trail of Hair

I try not to dwell on this beautiful mane of hair that I had last month.  Instead, I'm focusing on killing microscopic cancer cells and the new, cute curly hair I'll have in a couple of months.  There's a point a couple of weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment when you think, "Maybe I won't lose my hair after all.  Maybe I will be one of those chosen few who gets to keep their hair."  Alas, as soon as you let this thought enter your mind, you begin shedding.  At first, it's mild and not too bad.  Then, a trail of dead hair follows you wherever you go.  I wanted to keep my hair for a meeting that I had coming up at work.  So, I carefully tended to it and managed the trail as best I could.  I was really worried there for a moment when gusty winds moved into Austin just days before my meeting.  Thankfully, it didn't do much damage.  I held on to my hair for as long as I could, and when I returned to Austin from my meeting in Fort Davis, Matt took the clippers and did what good husbands do -- made me bald.  Well, I'm not technically bald. I have a fine layer of soft fuzz that one co-worker likened to her baby's head.  So, now I'm sporting hats. I'm not much of a wig person.  

In other news, I had my second chemotherapy treatment a week ago.  I'm finally starting to feel somewhat normal again.  I look forward to another week and half of this feeling until I have to go in again.  I will be finished with this chemo cocktail nicknamed "AC" on March 11th.  It will be a good day!  AC is the worst chemo that I will do and the next round called Taxol is not bad at all.  I've heard from several people that people on this particular regimen (12 weekly infusions) start growing their hair back!  This is an exciting prospect indeed!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hello old friend. So we meet again.

Well, I'm about to head to my first of 16 chemotherapy sessions. Needless to say, I am not looking forward to it.  Actually, the infusion part isn't bad at all.  It's about an hour after you get home that all the fun begins. I decided while back that I will not have any expectations on how this will go based on my previous experience. I am hopeful that it won't be as bad,  but I am prepared for an evening full of restlessness and puking.  I'm lucky to have my dear husband and my sweet mother to care for me in addition to my fuzzy medical team: Hurley, Frances, Iris and Orzo.  After all my surgeries, Hurley was so attentive to me that he earned the new nickname, Nurse Puppy.  I look forward to his snugs.

I have a mix of emotions right now.  I think that they can be best expressed in this classic viral video, David After the Dentist.  There's something about all those existential questions that I can really relate to. Please enjoy:

As we venture over to the oncology office, I will be listening to my "let's get fired up about chemo" song courtesy of Of Montreal.  Please enjoy this too and maybe do a little dance.