Hi All! I'm through with chemo #4 and only have 2 more treatments to go. Woohoo! All of the good thoughts and prayers people have been saying for me are working because I feel fantastic! Yes, chemo #4 by far felt the worst but my bounce back this time was so much quicker than the others and my energy level has gotten much better. I spend more time these days listening to my body and less time listening to distractions which is guiding me in the right direction, towards health and wellness!
I have chemo #5 this Friday and my last treatment the third week of September. Then the following week I have an MRI and a mammogram scheduled to see how well the chemo worked. I will also visit my surgeon where we will discuss my options regarding surgery. Right now it looks like I am a pretty good candidate for breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) which would have to be followed up by 5-7 weeks of radiation (please take my survey at the end of this blog to help me with my decision regarding surgery and radiation). Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will be finished with all of the treatments so that I can solely focus on recovery.
One exciting thing that happened is my surgeon just added to his practice a new breast surgeon who I had the pleasure of meeting at my Bosom Buddies cancer support group. She is an expert on a newer type of reconstruction surgery done on lumpectomies for qualified candidates. It’s called Oncoplastic Surgery and honestly, I am so grateful she is here. This technique is done during the lumpectomy so that no additional surgeries are needed. And, the exciting thing is it looks great! Both breasts are involved as they work to make them both symmetrical and actually give them a little lift. The coolest thing though, this technique allows you to do radiation following surgery whereas traditional reconstruction surgeries have to be done after radiation. That means only one surgery! Not all women qualify for this surgery so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will.
Many of you have been so kind to inquire about my state of being and I truly appreciate all of the thoughtfulness. In all honesty, chemo really stinks and makes you feel like crap, no doubt about it! (I'm using very conservative language here). The side effects along with the robbing of your energy is a complete hassle and a disruption to your life but I have found that how I perceive things and my attitude toward it all is everything. Yes, I feel these inharmonious things, but I get the big picture and all of this has forced me to become much stronger in my mind and in my resolve. So really, I do feel great and am getting better all of the time!
Kevin and I have had the pleasure of entertaining several visits from family and friends over the past month which really has given me time to get my focus off the chemo and on to spending time with them. Last month our daughter Chandler came to visit as well as my dear friend Amy Vaughn (you all got to see our fun video in my last post, if not you can check it out here). This month our daughter Brittany and son-in-law Blake visited followed by the Texas Blum's. Here are a few highlights:
Good times for sure!
Many people are so frightened by cancer, chemo and radiation, and it is scary, but I want to help shed some light on the darkness many of us have regarding this disease and the treatment of it. So when I go to get my next chemo treatment I am going to document it for you all. I also plan to do the same as I go to my tests, surgery and follow it all up with some documentation of my radiation treatments. Hopefully I can help you get a better idea regarding the behind the scenes of dealing with this crazy disease and the treatments involved. (Here's a short video about cancer cells and chemo treatment).
Speaking of crazy, I have been spending a lot of time researching causes and cures for cancer and the amount of conflicting info out there is definitely wacky! First of all there are over 100 different types of diseases we call cancer, that’s a lot of disease! We know that these diseases occur when an abnormal cell grows out of control (short video on ‘How Cancer Starts’ by Cancer Research UK). What we don’t know is how that bad cell is able to get past our body’s cell division control system, which normally is able to weed out abnormal cells. When this does occur, that abnormal cell divides and divides and divides which results in cancer.
Many people, websites, studies and experts claim to know the cause or cure for cancer, all of which are well intentioned and many of which do help, but so much of what they are saying conflicts with what others are saying. So who is right? Or all they all right? I don't know the answer and unfortunately I don't believe they do as well. There is no one cause and no one cure. Cancer is an evolving plethora of diseases that continue to daunt us all. Thankfully there is a lot of research going on so maybe one day we will have the answer, but for now it’s kind of all over the place.
The really cool thing is we do have some say and control in all of this. It has everything to do with our thinking. Our thoughts have more control over all cancer and disease than any drug or therapy ever could. Our thoughts are the control system of all that happens to us and we have all been designed with the amazing ability to reason and think and in turn play a part in what plays out in our lives.. This realization, that all that happens in life I can play a part in by right thinking, has been the largest life lesson I have ever learned. We all think up to 50,000+ thoughts per day, many of those thoughts are negative or useless. I knew if I wanted be healed from this disease and live life to it’s fullest I had to get some control over all of those thoughts. Learning to quiet my mind and be more of a deliberate thinker is how my life has slowly began to shift.
All things are rooted in faith, which is the single most important tool of man's existence. Faith is a belief and a belief is something you just keep thinking. What are you thinking right now? Try watching your thoughts for a day and see where your faith is placed. It's a fun experiment and really revealing, I must say. Since this cancer thing came into my life I have really paid attention to where my thoughts are and have been working on pushing out the ones I don't want while replacing them with the ones that I do want. This has been showing me that I can truly live an amazing life and that all things good are possible!
Now I don't have to struggle over which research study is right and which one is wrong or what I'm supposed to eat or not eat, I can educate myself, take all of the information and decide what is best for me. We all know what is best for us, we just have to learn to listen.
That’s how I came to where I am today. After reading all of the mounds of information on cancer, illness and treatments I decided to listen to what my body said for me and that was to go for the traditional treatments and synergize them with a holistic approach which includes my mind, body and spirit. Meditation, eating right, taking quality vitamins and minerals, exercising daily, choosing to be happy and to filling my life with all things good is my plan!
So now I would like to hear from you. I still haven't made a complete decision on surgery and radiation (though I have a pretty good idea) and I'm still trying to educate myself and gather as much information as possible before committing so your input is important to me. I've created a survey that is anonymous and I would love it if you take it. I will share the results and my decision in an upcoming post (you can see previous answers by clicking on it after taking survey). Comments are welcome as well.
The one last thing I want to say is how important it is for all of you to know how amazing you all are. Everyone of you! Life is amazing and full of promise and hope. If you know anyone that is going through a fight with cancer or another disease and is feeling hopeless or down, please hook them up with my blog. I really want to connect with those who are struggling in hopes that I can help to make a difference. Love you all!