(Note: If this is your first time visiting my page, thank you for your concern and support. You may want to read the pages to the left first (My Story, About Me, My Dr. Oz / Oprah Story, etc.), then read from below. My latest blog entries will feed to the top automatically. The most recent blog entries are also listed as links on the bottom left.)
Wow, can you believe it’s been a year?! This week, I celebrated my one year survival milestone, my last on site treatment, and my 32nd birthday. I remember sitting in the parking lot of University Hospital last year, crying on the phone to my mom and Dan, telling them for the first time that the radiologists thought I had cancer. At that time, everyone was still optimistic and expecting the best – that I didn’t have cancer. But I knew. I knew I had it. And I was worried. Worried for what lied ahead, worried I had let it go undetected for too long, worried about how it would change my life, and yes, worried about death. Little did I know, a year later, I would be in a better place – the best place I’ve been in in my entire life – a survivor, a mother, and the happiest I’ve ever been (even without hair).
This Wednesday, March 24, 2010, marked one year since I got the pathology results. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I got out of my car, approached the oncology surgeon’s waiting room, turned the door knob and heard my cell phone ring. I had been waiting for the call and knew it was them before I even looked at the caller id. The news was what I expected. Cancer. You hear it all the time and for many it’s your worst fear. For me, it was my new reality.
My family, friends, acquaintances, and people I’ve met along the way have been the best. I couldn’t have gotten through it without you. For Christmas, I gave my mom a charm from Things Remembered. It was a silver oval with a breast cancer ribbon charm hanging in front of it. I had “Together We Fought” engraved on the front and “I love you Mom” engraved on the back. Today, at my one year survivor dinner at Nina’s house, my mom gave me the same charm, with “Surrounded by Love” engraved on it. From Nina and Natalie, I got all my blog entries bound in a story book, including everyone’s comments and personal messages. Both were such thoughtful gifts that I’ll treasure forever. I was reading through some of my old blog posts tonight. It was weird reading what I wrote at certain times. I think the “chemo brain” has stuck around because there were many things I don’t remember. But what I do remember is all the support and love I received along the way. I truly was “surrounded by love”. Thank you all so much for following my story and sharing in my journey.
I had a mammogram on Wednesday before my last Herceptin appointment. It came back clear, just like my MRI a couple weeks ago so that was nice to hear. Happy Birthday to me! 🙂 My last appointment went great. Mom came with me. I sat next to a girl I had met in there a couple months ago. She was getting her “big” chemo and had lost her hair since the last time I saw her. It seems like a long time ago when I was going through that. My hair is still growing back but it still looks atrocious and still too short to let anyone see it. It was pretty crowded in there this time. It seemed to be slow over the winter and has picked up again like last summer. Almost every chair was full again (25 chairs, so around 50 people in there). The usual mix of people again. A young girl my age next to me, with her mom by her side. An older man on the other side, with his elderly wife by his. All of the nurses congratulated me for being done and cancer free. It’s weird that I will no longer have to visit the infusion room. I’ll still go back every three months to see Dr. Limentani and have mammograms and MRI’s every six months, but I won’t have to sit in the infusion room chair anymore. No more IVs in my arm. No more cold cancer drugs going into my body, and no more bad memories of eating popsicles and feeling sick. But I will miss meeting my mom for lunch so often and enjoying her company by my side on those so many Wednesdays over the past year.
So now, going forward, I’ll see my oncologist every three months for check ups for the first year, every four months the second year, and every six months after that, for eight years. I’ll also be on Tamoxifen pills for five years, which I started after radiation and haven’t had any side effects from. I’ll update my blog periodically with the results from my latest scans. It’s weird to say I’m “in remission” now. I prefer to say I’m “cancer free”. “Remission” sounds like that means it’s going to come back at some point. I don’t think that way. Nope, I like to say I’m “cancer free”. 🙂
Well, I’ll close out for now with my latest “My Life in Numbers” stats. 🙂
1. 75+ doctor appointments
2. 1 CAT scan
3. 1 bone scan
4. 3 MRI’s
5. 3 mammograms (including the surprise Voodoo needle one before my surgery)
6. 15 biopsy samples taken
7. 6 “big” chemo cycles
8. 30 Herceptin treatments
9. 66 hours of IV treatments
10. $300,000 in insurance claims
11. $8,500+ spent out-of-pocket on medical expenses
12. 30 minutes of Dr. Oz XM/Sirius radio air time
13. 8 wiggies purchased (5 worn, 1 liked)
14. 2 of my pictures on the set of Oprah’s Dr. Oz tribute show and 2 Oprah tickets for a different show
15. 1 new puppy
16. 2 new cars (SC 430 convertible / Acrua RL)
17. 6 sets of Chemo Eve presents
18. 30 chemo popsicles
19. 150,000 hairs lost (resulting in about $1,000 saved from the hair salon)
20. 165 shaves/shampoos/conditions/drys/stylings avoided (that’s about 55 hours of getting ready time!!)
21. 365+ days of wearing a wiggie or hat – BLAH!
22. 2,000+ miles driven to/from doctor appts
23. 3 tumors dissolved!!!!!
24. 2 lymph nodes testing positive for cancer before chemo
25. 0 lymph nodes testing positive for cancer after chemo
26. 33 radiation treatments
27. 165 radiation blasts (5 per visit)
28. 1 lumpectomy surgery
29. 1 lymph node dissection surgery
30. 9 lymph nodes removed (all I had left after chemo)
31. 3 breast cancer walks
32. $15,000+ raised by team for ACS breast cancer walk
33. #10 for top personal fundraiser for ACS breast cancer walk
34. 17,732+ blog hits
35. 5 new friends made in the chemo room / wig shop
36. 1 introduction to Nancy Brinker
37. 2 barely visible surgery scars
38. 1,825 Tamoxifen pills to be taken
39. 5 years of not being able to get pregnant, but no worries, because…….
40. 1 new Little Scrumptious baby!!!!! 🙂