Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just Call Me Freckles

Alrighty then! So far so good on the radiation front - 3 treatments down, only 27 more to go!

 As you'll recall in my last post, I was last entrenched in an epic battle for the good of the Republic in the MRI machine. Now I'm stuck in the middle of rush hour in NYC in the middle of radiation.

HHOOOOOOONNNKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!

Yeah, that's the lovely sound the radiation machine makes while it is shooting me full of...well, radiation.

I started the week with an appointment for radiation simulation. I know the techs are highly skilled, and it's an important thing to do, and there's a PHYSICIST that develops my treatment plan (yes - Physicist!!) but the whole morning felt like tic-tac-toe for beginners. By the time I left my chest was covered with purple x's & o's, little dots, and what I'm pretty sure was the beginnings of a abstract self-portrait of one of the techs. Add all that to the existing scars, port & overall asymmetrical look of my body right now, and I looked pretty hot!

On Tuesday I went back to make sure all the pictures, x-rays, CT scans & MRI's lined up with all the pretty pictures they drew the day before. Hooray! I passed!

So, I'm up on the Frankenstein reanimation radiation table that moves by remote control (!), right arm over my head, looking at the pictures of Happy Little Trees on the ceiling (seriously, there is a picture of trees on the ceiling), cancer-y area exposed for all to see and UP pops my doctor.

Seriously.

From out of nowhere she appears. Like a twisted game of whack-a-mole. Does she have a super secret series of tunnels under the clinic? Can she just pop up where ever she wants??  Apparently I'd never realized how short she was until I was hovering 5 ft. in the air, cause she has a dedicated stool to stand on so she can talk to patients while they're on the table. Thank goodness she didn't scare me, cause my ass would have fallen that 5 ft. onto a very cold, hard tile floor.Luckily I only got a case of the giggles, which I passed on to Dr. Luder, then to one tech, then the other. Probably took us about 2 minutes to get control of ourselves enough to be serious about the radiation.

Then I got tattoos. What a let down.

I'd been anticipating the whole tattooing thing for months, it's been my mental joke since I don't like needles. "I didn't go out and get drunk then get a tattoo, I just got cancer."

It's definitely not like you see on LA Ink. No Kat Von D, no cool designs, hell...there wasn't even a tattoo gun. WTF??? They dabbed ink on me, then jabbed me with a diabetic testing needle thingy - HARD! Like a prison tattoo, or some old-school tribal junk where they use a sharpened stick & a hammer. And one stick for each blot of ink, that's it.

Basically, I have 7 new freckles. Booo-rrrr-ing.

And now that I have tattoos, they use laser beams to line me up and...HHHHOOOOONNNNKKKKK!!!!!!

Ugh.

Really? That's the sound it has to make? It can't play the first few bars of Beethoven's 5th? or even Yankee Doodle Dandy??

No.

HHHHHOOOONNNNNNKKKKK!!!!!!

At least I have Happy Little Trees to look at.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm the girl who wouldn't wear PINK

Two weeks ago today I had my last chemo treatment!
Woot, woot, Holla!!!!!!!

Still a little numb & sore, but I have mostly come out of all that crap.
Woot, woot, Holla!!!!!! 

I even enjoyed an adult beverage or two last night. I haven't had more than a 1/2 a glass of anything in months, so the tolerance is gone
Woot, woot, Holla!!!!!!


And, in the last week, I did something I've never done in my life...bought a PINK shirt.  No big deal, right? SUPER BIG DEAL for me, 'cause I'm the girl who wouldn't wear PINK. Mom says the last time I wore PINK was probably when I was 2 and she was still dressing me. So, that's about 33 years of un-PINKness for this girl.

So what was so special about this PINK shirt?? I bought it from a group called Guardians of the Ribbon, which promotes cancer awareness & healing for women with all types of cancer, not just breast cancer. This group and 'Nicki', their PINK fire truck, was in Lindsborg this past weekend for an event called "Battle of the Buses," sponsored by Lindsborg Community Hospital. This was a kick-off event for fundraising efforts for the PINK FUND at the Hospital - to assist locals with the costs associated with cancer screenings. Happenings throughout the day included a 'Bling Your Bra' art show, a hamburger feed and a fire truck pull. Such a fun day!!!

And I'm here to tell you, pulling a fire truck is hard work!!!  Seriously hard!! I had 6 big, strapping guys on my team and us 4 women were no slouches, but it seemed like it took forever for that fire truck to move! See the video below, and notice the 'cheaters' we had pushing from behind - which we didn't know about until we saw the video later!

Pulling Nicki

The best part of the day was my kids getting to sign their names on Nicki. This fire truck is covered with messages written by survivors & their families. It was a great visual for my kids, getting to see just how many lives are affected by this awful thing we call cancer.

I don't have millions to give away, and you probably don't either (but if you do...call me!!), but every little bit we do to support each other in this fight gets us that much closer to a cure.

And for a cure, I'll wear PINK every day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stay calm and breathe...

"But it's the LAST one," my brother said to me for the 3rd or 4th time. I think he even said it when we weren't talking about chemo at that particular moment. He was trying to wrap his head around it, just like I have been the past couple of days.

Thoughts of everything I want to do race in my head, but I have to put the brakes on and remind myself that while it WAS the last chemo, I'm not finished with treatment yet. First off, the side-effects of the chemo have to work their way out of my system. The achy-ness, the fatigue, the numbness in my hands & feet, the way things still taste a bit off. Oh, and hair. MAN, do I want hair!

But the thoughts of side-effects still don't erase the fact that I want a margarita party with everyone I know in attendance. That I want the biggest slice of chocolate silk pie you've ever seen - hell, give me the whole pie! That I want to jump in the car with my kids and travel & see everything there is to see in this wonderful nation, then the world. More than anything, I'm ready to live again, not just exist.

Now, on to the Adventures in Mammogram-Land...
When you're a woman and your doctor schedules a mammogram, your inner-voice automatically begins to whine like a petulant child - "I don't WANNA do a mammogram!!!!" Even if a mammogram has saved your life, it is still the shits. Some stranger, who feels just as awkward & nervous as you, gets to feel up your 'girls' and then put them in a vice-grip & THEN take a picture! Of all the medical tests that are out there, I believe mammograms should require dinner & drinks first. At my first mammogram this year, the tech totally agreed with me. She thought there should be tequila shots available for everyone in the waiting room, even for her.

So, Thursday, (the day after my LAST chemo!!) I had to have not one, but 2 different kinds of mammograms - double torture! After the boobie squishing, I wasn't sure there was a more uncomfortable way to check the girls. Guess what??? I found it - MRI mammograms!!! Holy beans. I'm pretty sure the CIA developed closed-MRIs as a method of torture. In a nut-shell (pun intended), it was total sensory deprivation.

This test involved everything: I had to have an IV. They forced "contrast" dye into my system. I had to lay face-down on a table and put my 'girls' in their own slots, so they're just hangin' there. They put headphones on me so I could hear 'music' to distract me. Then they rolled me back into a tiny tube.

So, there I am, poked, prodded, hangin', blind, deaf & trapped. Then the noises started. Seriously, I thought I had landed in some far-off space battle. Beeps, blasters, laser cannons - any noise you've heard in a Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica movie was coming out of that machine. Holy shit. Um...hello?? Where was the "music?" Maybe that was a bit of guitar hidden behind the alien annihilation soundtrack I was being treated to.

And the worst thing, while you're thinking you're being attacked, and you can't see, and you're still in a tube, YOU HAVE TO STAY CALM & BREATHE. WHAT??? For the love of Pete, this test sucks.

But I survived it, and am better for it. Right? Sure. Luckily, this test isn't ordered for every women, so hopefully you're escape it. My next step is radiation, which sounds like an absolute breeze compared with chemo and MRIs. Let's hope for the best. I go in on Sept. 19th to have radiation set up and get tattooed. Yep, that's right tattooed! Sucks that I had to get cancer in order to make myself get a tattoo. :) Unfortunately, it won't be anything cool, like a dragon or tramp stamp, just a couple of teeny-tiny green dots to help the radiation techs line me up in the machine each time. Boooorrrriiinnnnnggg!!!! Maybe I'll add to the collection sometime.