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The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: The Anatomy of a Selfie

 

My hair is gone.
My eyebrows and eyelashes are thinning.
My cheeks are puffy.
The toxins are breaking my skin out.
I’ve lost weight.
My feet are swollen.
Some days I look in the mirror and I scarcely recognize myself.
I see a cancer patient.
I dig deep.
I hear the inner voice.
I pray for grace.
I pray for joy.
I find strength.
And I remember.
I am Christy.
I am a fighter.
I will prevail.
I will be cancer free and I will be better than I was before I began this journey.
And I smile.

April 11, 2019

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The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: Chemotherapy Round 2 – Knowledge is Power

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The unknown is always a tricky place to be. The first round of chemotherapy on February 11, 2019 was like delving into the dark pits of uncertainty. I had read entirely too much information, had talked to others who had been through it all before me, and was even informed by my wonderful medical staff of what to possibly expect (and I mean that sincerely, they really are awesome!). I went in with a positive attitude, a strong mind set (which is immensely important!) and just knew that I was going to handle the treatment like a boss and not let it wreak havoc in my incredibly healthy body. Bahahahaha, I know right, you have to love my ignorance and stubbornness. Yes, there are some common factors that come along with chemotherapy, however until the chemicals are pumped through YOUR body, you honestly do not know what is going to happen. (Refer to previous blog entry for all the gory details!) After round one gave me a rude awakening, I went into round two with a completely different mindset.

Round two came on March 4, 2019. I still walked into the treatment with a positive attitude and a strong mind set, but I also walked into it with something else that I didn’t have before – knowledge, and we all know that knowledge is power! As I said in my blog about the first round, I am a quick learner and I took every lesson in with me into the treatment room.  The side effects came, however this time I had gained my own personal experience of what might could and would happen and I was much more prepared for the next few weeks that would follow. These are some of the lessons I learned:

Biotene Mouth Rinse is a God send. Have it on hand and RINSE! RINSE! RINSE! 3 times a day, daily, beginning as soon as you get home from treatment. Do not wait until you wake up feeling like you’ve swallowed a desert of cactuses.  It is inevitable that your mouth will become raw and develop these annoying little sores all over, and some of them might be right on the pressure points of your tongue where you swallow. It can also make your throat very raw, which puts a strain on your voice to talk (I didn’t hear anyone around me complaining about me talking less 🙂 ). Preventative maintenance will make it bearable instead of overwhelming.

No matter how regular or irregular your bowel movements were before chemotherapy, they absolutely will not be regular during this season. Have plenty of Imodium AD on hand and absolutely take it just the way the doctor tells you too! She is the professional and she knows things! Used to I could take 1 Imodium and not go for a month. Now I’m lucky to not go for 5 minutes after taking 8 in one day. Insert…my apologies for talking about BM’s if it makes you uncomfortable, but another lesson I learned quickly is that BM’s become a common topic of conversation and you have no dignity in this matter during treatments especially if you have only one bathroom in your house. You will be knocking the door down with intense urgency if someone else is there when you need to go! I have told my children and others that a successful day on chemotherapy is when you don’t use the bathroom on yourself. I don’t always have successful days…but following the rules will make those unsuccessful days less few and farther between.

Bland foods are a must during the first week or two after treatments. Nothing you crave will taste like it should. Even your beloved coffee! Yikes!  Mashed potatoes, soups, jello, pudding, yogurt (non-probiotic kind!) applesauce, and my new favorite food – peaches with vanilla parfait on the bottom – will become necessary staples in your pantry. Banana popsicles and frozen cokes are heaven sent and are so soothing when your mouth sore ridden and on fire! Whatever you do DO NOT eat General Tso’s chicken – negative, no, nay, never, ever when your mouth is on fire!

God moments are everywhere! Sometimes you think that something is for you (referring to the pink wig in the picture above bought for me by one of my awesome friends!)  but it turns out to be for others too. It’s always a good feeling to bring joy and sunshine to people and put a big smile on their faces. Always be on the look out for God moments!

One of the greatest lessons I learned in round one is to say yes when people ask if they can help you. I have spent many years of my life being the caregiver, the one reaching out and taking care of others. I am a mom, that’s what we do. I am also a very independent soul and I am use to taking care of myself. Yet, so many friends have reached out to me wanting to help me during this season of my life and I honestly can’t tell you how wonderful it is! Little things mean so much! These are just a few of them:
Dinner that others bring to you for you and your family so you don’t have to cook (and they always come at just the right time!)
Your daughter cooking dinner for everyone, and cleaning up!
Cute hats that others who have walked this journey give to you.
Hats that your TRIBE orders for everyone for your support J
Cards, letters, messages, phone calls, random visits, words of encouragement, songs, and scriptures sent to you always brighten the moment!
Hand and foot spa treatments (oh yes!)
Not charging you for shaving your head when your hair is falling out (that experience will be another blog).
A listening ear when I need to vent, cry a little or talk about how I don’t want to talk about cancer time. A strong shoulder is wonderful, especially when it’s attached to a handsome face with the prettiest blue eyes ever 🙂
Care packages – some that have come from as far as Florida and New Hampshire!
Again, So many little things mean so much!

The other great lesson I have learned going through round one was a much needed reminder that I read on a precious friend’s blog who is going through Breast Cancer also. In one of her entries (quote, unquote) she spoke about how we are quick to refer to the treatments simply as ‘chemo’ leaving off the ‘therapy’ part. Do you know how many times I have done this already? When we do that, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects – the dreadful side effects – the awful things the chemicals are doing to our bodies. However these treatments are made up of two aspects – chemo (the drugs and chemicals used) and therapy – therapeutic medical treatment of impairment, injury, disease, or disorder. This chemotherapy is more, much more than toxic chemicals that are pumped through my body. It is a treatment used for the eradication of the cancer cells that is attacking my health. It is intended for good on my behalf and Praise the Lord, it is working already! I can physically feel one of the tumors already reducing in size after two treatments! Can anyone say hallelujah?!? And when it is all said and done, I am banking on the prognosis of being cancer free just like the doctor has told me I would be and the chemotherapy will play a huge part in that outcome. I will settle for nothing less! So thank you Cindy for that much needed reminder, you helped me tremendously!

While finishing this blog, round three is complete! I am halfway through this part of the journey, woot woot! I feel positive, strong minded, and much more knowledgeable which makes me more powerful and focused. The chemical warfare has been launched, now let’s eradicate those little terrorists!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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The Rebellious Boob Chronicles: Round 1 – Chemotherapy doesn’t care how tough you are!

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Life has a way of shaping you. Situations and circumstances can make or break you. I decided early in life that I wouldn’t let the hardships break me so I developed this deep sense of determination to always overcome. My mother was my grand example. She fought through many years of severe domestic violence to come out standing incredibly strong and successfully raise 4 children all by herself. She worked 2 and 3 jobs at a time, always made ends meet and never gave up despite the fact that I am sure she felt like it numerous times.

Over the years if I have heard it said once, I’ve heard it said many times, “you are tough!” I’ve been labeled a strong woman by many, and I strive to wear that mantle well. Not in an arrogant fashion, but with a quiet confidence knowing that my strength and perseverance comes from a higher source and that there are 6 precious souls that depend on my abilities to always make it through. Being strong is crucial.

On January 18, 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although I wasn’t completely taken by surprise, I knew something was not going exactly right in my body, I found ironic humor in the fact that recent blood work showed that I was healthy as a horse. Everything was in perfect range! I have been blessed for the past several years to enjoy the outdoors and have spent the last two years participating in numerous intense (and sometimes completely outrageous!) adventuring. I have also been very conscious of the nutrition I have fed my body and soul and the end result was a strong physical, mental and spiritual being. I have felt the best I have ever felt in my life! All the while I am out having the time of my life adventuring; little did I know that my immune system was building itself to mammoth strength. I was unaware that it was fighting hard for me to keep the cancer contained in my breast, hallelujah!

When I was given my treatment plan of 6 rounds of chemotherapy before surgery, I determined immediately to keep a positive attitude and outlook. Everyone who heard about the diagnosis and treatment shouted the words of encouragement to me – You are tough! You got this! You will breeze through this! And I believed that with all of my heart. So here I went to the first treatment with the mindset that, yes, I AM a strong women and not even chemotherapy isn’t going to slow me down much less stop me! (ROFLOL!!  I know right! I am always the ambitious one!).

My first treatment was Monday, February 11, 2019. The treatment took 9 hours, whew! But everything went well. My doctor told me that I needed to keep up my exercise through all of this, so I stepped out of the car, went into the house to put up my stuff, and headed out the door for a mile walk. I felt victorious! Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday passed, I worked each day, and other than feeling like I was a jacked up rabbit on speed that suddenly felt like I could nap for days (totally due to the steroid and nausea meds regime to prevent sickness – which worked!) I felt good. I was conquering this thing called chemotherapy. Then Friday came…and the rude awakening that chemotherapy doesn’t care how tough you are! It does not take into consideration all of your accomplishments, victories, and achieved goals. It doesn’t care if you are a feisty, strong spirited, independent woman. It doesn’t care that you had big plans to hike for the weekend. When it decides to have its way with you, it does, and with a vengeance. These are my lessons learned from round 1 of chemical warfare on the terrorist that is residing in my rebellious boob…

When the chemicals decide they are ready to exit your body…you better have enough Imodium AD on hand to stop 20 elephants. Otherwise you will find yourself becoming intimate with your bathroom and losing 10 pounds in less than 48 hours.

Coconut water is a great source of hydration, unless you drink too much. Then it acts like a natural laxative – which isn’t good if you are experiencing chemo dump! Ugh!

Protein meal replacement shakes are a great source of nutrition when you don’t feel like eating because your mouth has been attacked by the chemical warfare and you feel like you have eaten shards of glass for breakfast. Unless…you are lactose intolerant and they are lactose based. Yeah you guessed it…hello bathroom!

A cold bowl of ice cream tastes so good when your mouth is on fire…unless you are lactose intolerant and…well, refer to the above statement!

Chemicals exiting your body burn like a forest fire out of control. Thank God I wasn’t throwing up and it wasn’t my esophagus feeling like a marriage of gasoline and matches. ( that is all I will say about that!)

Muscle spasms are no fun! Especially if you are dehydrated from running to the bathroom for two days because of chemotherapy, coconut water and lactose based foods. Except for a cramp in my calf or toe over the years, I had never had a muscle spasm in 49 years and had no clue that something could seize up your whole body make you feel like someone was stabbing a knife into your pelvic bone, all the while pulling your muscles all the way to your chest tighter than a rubber band. Holy freaking moly!

Chemotherapy can cause your mouth to sizzle like you have eaten a bowl full of pop rocks (remember that childhood candy??) And then suddenly, out of nowhere, you can wake up feeling like you have swallowed a desert of cacti. Two words…miracle mouthwash. HAVE IT ON HAND!

No matter how much of a go-getter you are, you WILL take a nap almost daily and you will like it!

Do not, I repeat, do not eat a Hershey’s’ kiss 3 days after having chemotherapy. It will taste like rotten cardboard and you will cry a little because chocolate should never, ever, ever taste like that! (Wait two weeks and indulge in the M&M’s your friends bring you, you will love them as much as you always have and it will be sunshine to your soul!)

Chemotherapy is not fond of hair. That is good news for your armpits and legs,I don’t have to shave for days and days – woot woot!  However that is bad news for your head. Warning, although you know it will grow back eventually, you WILL cry when your hair starts to fall out in handfuls. Thank God and friends for pretty scarves and head covers.

Chemotherapy doesn’t care if your child has the flu. It will not allow you to take care of him and it won’t care that your heart is broke when he has to go stay somewhere else while he is contagious.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bite your lip the night before chemotherapy. Remember that it takes your body longer to heal because your immune system is being annihilated. If you have this protruding sore on the inside of your lip, chances are it will get in your way and you WILL bite it over and over. You will cringe every time that you do and it will get infected and hang around way too long!

Chemotherapy doesn’t bother that you never had had allergies in your life. You will wake up with a new found allergy and your eyes will water at the sight of daylight and your nose will drip constantly like a leaking faucet.

Chemotherapy and Mother Nature are wicked friends when they visit you at the same time…no other words needed.

Round 1 of chemotherapy was definitely a learning experience. I had no clue what to expect and there were moments when the side effects hit that I felt ignorant, ashamed, defeated and as helpless as a new born baby. The good news is I am a quick learner. Perseverance and determination are my lifelong companions. I take note of every little detail and for round two I am much more prepared! Does that mean I will be tougher than the chemicals that are pumping through my veins? Bahahaha…NO. I will just be smarter (and a little more pissed off than I originally was the first time around). My prayers will be that much more specific and I will fight with knowledge and diligence, and eventually, I will win this battle no matter how much chemotherapy doesn’t care.

So, let round 2 of chemical warfare on the terrorist that has invaded my body begin…

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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