Friday, July 31, 2009

Breast Cancer Information

This information was taken from the Breast Cancer Society of Canada website:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women and its cause is unknown.

In 2008, estimated 22,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die from it.

...approximately 431 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer weekly and 102 will not survive it.

...1 in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime (age 90) and one in 28 will die from it. is expected that 170 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 50 will die from it.

...Breast cancer death rates have declined in all ages combined and in every age group since the mid 1990s.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society / National Cancer Institute of Canada; Canadian Cancer Statistics 2008, Toronto, Canada

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sandwich

The low level nausea will not let up ....

We went for a long drive and when we stopped for gas, I went into the store and looked at some sandwiches but nothing appealed to me. When D went in to pay for the gas, he picked up a roast beef and cheese sandwich. He ate half and I wolfed down the other half ... it's funny when someone else buys a snack it's always more appealing.

Slept 12 hours straight last night ... still feel like more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plantars Wart ... A Definite Maybe

Well I got in to see my family doctor to discuss my sore hoofy. When I went in to the clinic, I asked for a mask. The receptionist said ... “Why are you coughing?”... I said, “No, I’m on chemo.” When the nurse took me in the room, she asked ... “Why the mask?” I said, “I’m on chemo. I’m concerned about H1N1.”

Anyways, I saw the doctor. She looked at my foot and said ... “You have a wart.” But to confirm, she’d have to take a scalpel and take off a layer to see underneath. I said, “I had chemo last week and my white blood cells are probably at zero right now.” After some discussion we decided not to touch that little devil right now.

I mentioned to her I’m arranging to see my dentist at the end of the month to have my teeth cleaned and checked. Between the dentist and the oncologist, we figured it best I go on oral antibiotics for a short time and delay chemo for one week during that cycle. We just can’t risk an infection. So I’m going to coordinate another visit with my family doctor so she can slice into my little wart friend. Maybe put a little liquid nitrogen on it.

So what do I do about my little friend if in fact it is a wart? The doctor recommended I try any of the over the counter wart products out there however I should first check with my oncologist as to the safest way for me to use these products.

Any treatments no matter how minor revolve around my white blood cycle counts and the risk of infection.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fluid In The Lungs

At my last oncologist visit, we talked a bit about the fluid in my lungs. Each CT scan shows an increase of fluid. Most of it is in my right lung which is my mastectomy side and the side I had radiation in 2001. The doctor feels the fluid retention is caused by the chemotherapy and not the cancer.

So our options are to stop chemotherapy or drain the fluid. Apparently, draining the fluid only lasts a month or two before it comes back. Also, when you do the draining procedure there are a few drawbacks. Every time you poke around in there you create scar tissue which then creates other pockets of fluid which you then have to drain.

So how does fluid in the lungs affect me? Well, when I lie down or get up from lying down or shift positions when lying down, I cough a few times. The fluid shifts and irritates the lung. My breathing is a bit more labored. I do notice the cough is getting deeper sounding too. For sleeping, the doctor recommended I stack some extra pillows at my head to incline me a bit more.

Each time I see the oncologist she taps regions of my back and the sound changes pitch with the level of fluid in my lungs. I’m not sure when a decision has to be made as to our next move.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sore Spot On Foot Bottom

The weekend has come and gone. I've had a shower and with a clean set of clothes ... I'm feeling good.

Saturday I felt something unusual and painful on the bottom of my left foot. I asked my husband to look at it. He says I have a better idea ... I'll take a picture of it and zoom in big time. The picture showed a small round calloused area with a pin hole in the center. Hopefully it's something simple like a sliver. Since I've been on Taxotere, I've been experiencing Hand Foot Syndrome which numbs the bottom of my feet. So if I did step on something and didn't feel it ... that would be why.

I called the research nurse at the Cancer Institute to ask her advice and she said have a doctor look at it but make sure to stress to them .... that I had chemo last week and that the white blood cells are at the lowest.

Next step is trying to get in to see my family doctor ... that is a challenge in itself ... anyways, I called the appointments desk and she said to call back tomorrow as the doctor may extend her hours for the day. I've got my fingers crossed I get in.

Call me a fraidy cat ... but when you're immune system is compromised, you never know.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Doing O.K.

Even though I didn’t post much the last couple of day, I must admit I was doing pretty well. It’s been hot here by my standards ... 30C/86F. I know some of the bloggers are giggling at these temperatures ... I’m sure they are thinking ... that is hardly warm. Anyways, we’ve been going out and sitting at my fav outdoor cafes for a cold pop or coffee and muffin. We drove through the park and even stopped to lie down on a blanket under a big shady tree.

Saturday which is usually my worst day of the cycle turned out O.K. I ended up having a couple of naps during the day which really helped. Besides my stomach giving me grief and some other minor issues ... I did pretty well.

Thou last night with the heat, we decided to sleep downstairs which didn’t really agree with me. I was chilled, got a head ache and ended up with intense dreams and therefore a rough sleep. I think, coming off those darn steroids always gives me weird dreams. Oh well ... still not bad, considering.

I know the worst is over and now I can focus on build up some strength.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cancer Fighter Awards 2009 Update

For an update on the top-rated cancer nonprofits in the GreatNonprofit’s Cancer Fighter Awards (

There are awards for different sized nonprofits and different regions. Winners will get recognition on GreatNonprofits, PlanetCancer and on GuideStar.

Contest ends July 30th.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Taking It Easy

We went out for coffee at an outdoor cafe which seems to be my favorite thing to do these days. I wore a short sleeve T-shirt with the PICC line sleeve cover hanging out. I just wish it wasn’t medical white but it was really no big deal. We had our dog Daisy with us which attracted a lot of friendly conversation.

A couple of cups of coffee later and about 1.5 hours later we decided to call it quits when the temperature hit 25°C/77°F. We were sitting in the shade but I started getting flushed so it was time to go.

Thanks to ANBCAmazon's advice from My Fight Against Triple Negative Breast Cancer, last night’s sleep was only slightly broken up. She reminded me to take Ativan to help combat the effects of the steroids. It worked last night and I hope it works tonight too.

Seems my stomach has settled down … I’m being very careful of what I eat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chemo Yesterday

I had my chemo treatment yesterday. It was quite uneventful ... which is a good thing. My appointment was in the afternoon and by that time all the beds were in use and I ended up in a chair. Call me spoiled but I like the beds better.

Last night, I went to bed at about 9:30 and woke at 12:15 just a few short hours later feeling hot and with the need to go to the bathroom. I had two bouts of diarrhea. Fell asleep on the couch at about 2:30 and slept till about 6:30 when I woke with a need to go to the bathroom one more time ... diarrhea.

I started chemo in August of 2008 and in March of this year the dosage was dropped by 25%. When I had full strength, I struggled with constipation and now with the reduced dosage I struggle with diarrhea.

I had half a protein bar and half a cup of coffee for breakfast. After having a shower, I’m feeling like getting out and about to enjoy the last couple of days before the remaining side effects of the chemo kick in.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Darn It

For almost 9 years I was able to avoid lymphedema but not anymore. Yesterday I showed my oncologist my swollen mastectomy arm/hand and she confirmed it. The swelling started a few months ago but it really gained speed this past cycle. The oncologist said it was caused by the chemo.

The research nurse is arranging for an appointment with physiotherapy to have a sleeve and glove fitted for my arm/hand. What I dislike ... O.K. hate the most, about the thought of wearing a sleeve is that I will no longer be able to hide the fact that I have breast cancer.

Double darn it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

CT Results

My last CT scan showed stability ... no change from the previous scan except my lungs are retaining a bit more fluid.

Blood work looks good for chemo tomorrow. Just one suggestion from the oncologist is boost up my protein intake to help minimize water retention.

So when I went in for my blood work, they gave me a pee cup ... I was not expecting that and had already gone ... I said I’d try my best. After giving them a small sample a lady comes around the corner and says ... good job. My husband said you should have warned her ... you’ll probably test positive for steroids. Oh well, I guess I’m off the Olympic Blogging Team.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back Home Safe And Sound

We just got in from being out of town. We were at a wedding ... a niece got married. The church was warm and stuffy; I felt a little light-headed but made it. The bride and groom were beautiful and handsome.

At the wedding reception, we were one of the first few tables to get served so no sore legs. The whole event was just wonderful.

The drive back was a bit long but we made it home safe and sound.

Off to unpack and clean up...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pet Therapy

Temperatures are still up there and the heat is on. Fortunately the dog got cut just in time. She is cool as a cucumber.

Daisy is a 9 1/2 year old miniature toy poodle cross and has been great therapy for me during my treatment.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Day In the Neighbourhood

It’s hotter than heck here right now. The dog is happy because it just got a haircut.

One of the outdoor coffee shops we wanted to go to yesterday was already full so we’ll have to go another day.

I’m feeling pretty good ... hope you are too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Breast Cancer Support Group

Tuesday I got a phone call reminding me of the Breast Cancer Support Group coffee on Wednesday.

As a group, we’ve been meeting for about nine years now ... every couple of weeks. It’s a blast when we get together. We’re kind of like a bunch of silly school girls. We talk about all sorts of things, sometimes we all talk at the same time and sometimes we just giggle for no reason at all.

Yesterday, we had a guest; one of the ladies brought her sister with her who was visiting from England.

As we were sitting there, I noticed Dr. H, walking into the cafeteria. Dr. H used to work at the Cross Cancer Institute as director of the Arts and Medicine program. She used facilitate the breast cancer support groups.

Anyways, we all waved to her and she came over. Of course she couldn’t remember us all but did recognize some faces. I believe she took someone’s contact information and wanted to connect with us again. Of course, I was having too much fun chatting and missed most of what was going on.

We finalized our plans for our summer garden party. J one of the ladies always offers her home to the group for a Christmas party and a summer garden party. She has a lovely home and back yard.

Our table was pretty crowded so we just about got through the whole meeting without having Ari join us. He is our mascot. Fortunately, he only made a quick appearance because there wasn’t enough room for him but we did have to show him to our guest.

He attracts a bit more attention than some of us like. Go figure ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cancer Rant

Yesterday I made the mistake of thinking too far in the future. I told myself back in August when my cancer came back that I would not think long term ever again.

So when I did start thinking ahead, I only became depressed. The future looks so gloomy. The life I had dreamt about as a teenager is nowhere near my reality now. What the heck happened? I was supposed to be a strong and vibrant person contributing to society. I love to work. I thought I would never stop working. And now it’s likely I may never work again.

Did I ever imagine a life threatening disease would make its way into my life? Not in a million years. Boy has the rug been pulled out from underneath me.

So how do I cope? What motivates me?

Can I tell you, these are tough questions ... and I don't even know if I have the answers right now.

I know it sounds like I’m feeling sorry for myself and maybe I am but damn it, I want to shout ... IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!

I know better though ... someone has to get this ... why not me?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Out And About

Yesterday I got quit a few errands done. I'm kind of excited about that because each time I'm out doing something, I'm getting physically stronger ... getting in and out of the car, walking across the parking lot, waiting in line ups, or whatever.

This is the best week of the cycle and I must try and push my limits.

Hope you're having a good day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy Day Yesterday

I neglected to say what goodies I picked up at yesterday’s shopping trip. I ended up with a pair of black pants and a white blouse and oh yes ... a new bra. Thou I do wear a prosthesis; I seem to prefer regular bras as opposed to prosthetic bras.

Later in the afternoon we stopped at an outdoor cafe for a cool soda. The weather was a little cooler than what we had hoped for but it was still very enjoyable.

Then we grabbed a few groceries at the grocery store and came home. Shortly after that I made supper.

So all in all a very active day for me considering we also went out for breakfast.

Did I happen to mention I slept pretty darn good last night?

Hope everyone is having a good day!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Clothes Shopping

Last week I stopped by the camping store and bought a 3-legged folding stool. That way when I'm out and about and I'm too tired to stand any longer, I just whip it out.

So today, my husband came clothes shopping with me. I sat in the change room with what I had picked out and he went and got different sizes for me.

Later as I was bra shopping, I set up my stool and sat down as I pondered the bras. I was too tired to look at anyone's facial expressions to see if they thought I was whacked in the head but if I did notice someone ogling, I said to D that I'd flip my wig. That should send them scurrying.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Shout-out To GreatNonprofits

I’ve been asked to do a shout-out for GreatNonprofits and their 2009 Cancer Fighters Awards.

People who have personal experiences with organizations (volunteers, clients, board members, donors) can post reviews and stories on, and the nonprofits that get the most positive reviews during July will win the contest. Individuals who participate also have a chance to win prizes.

About GreatNonProfits
GreatNonprofits enables user-generated reviews about nonprofits. You already know that one of the best ways to find a good restaurant or a good hotel is through that reviews by other people who have tried them. If you have direct experience with a nonprofit—as a donor, volunteer, client who has been served, board member or professional in the field – GreatNonprofits makes it easier for you to share your knowledge so that other people can discover the great nonprofits that are out there.

GreatNonprofits is a non-profit 501© (3) organization itself, which is funded by foundations and individuals.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Did It

Well I did it ... I went clothes shopping for the first time in eleven months. I've talked about doing it lots but I actually went out this morning and did it. I have a wedding to go to and want a new outfit.

As I went into the store, I kept my eyes peeled for every chair and bench in the store ... which I made use of. After having a look at what is out there for clothes, I thought maybe next week I'd come back with a shopping partner. I just didn't have the gas this time to pick and choose and try anything on. Next week I should be stronger and with help ... I'll be smokin'.

My nausea is a bit better today but this morning I had the diarrhea which I expected yesterday. After drinking two liters of hospital's CT scan cocktail, I always experience diarrhea. I didn't eat much yesterday so maybe that is why I had it today. I also had a bit of a lousy sleep last night which may explain that too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CT Scan Today

This morning I was at the Cancer Institute at 8:00 am for blood work and a CT scan. After all was said and done I got out of there at 11:30 this morning. I usually stop for a cup of coffee and muffin but today the nausea has gotten the best of me. It’s not really bad but just enough to turn me off eating.

I’ll get my CT results in about 10 days when I next see my oncologist.

As a reminder, I get CT scans every 6 weeks. The reason they are so often is that I am part of a research study.

I was asked to post a picture of my tendinitis exercising tool from yesterday’s post. The dowel is 1 ¼" diameter x 24” long. The length of the string will vary with the height of the person using it.

How it works is you stretch your arms out horizontally, parallel with the floor, your hands are shoulder width apart. Roll the weight up and down 3 times once per day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Have You Experienced Cording?

Today I received a comment from a fellow cancer blogger requesting some cording information. I’ll share my experience and then I’d invite you to share yours.

In 2000 after my mastectomy, I developed what the oncologist described as cording. My arm started to hurt and there appeared to be a hardened cord that formed from my arm pit all the way down to my wrist. I could not straighten out my arm for the pain it caused. The oncologist gave me some daily stretching exercises. The whole thing became quit painful with tendinitis developing in my wrist.

I ended up going to a chiropractor that did deep massage therapy. After numerous visits, he stretched and massaged that cord out and massaged the scar tissue out of my wrist. To make sure the cording and tendinitis didn’t come back, the chiropractor suggested I create this exercising tool. It’s a 1” x 18” dowel with a string and a 2 lb weight attached to the center. The string is the length of my arms stretched out horizontally down to the ground. My exercise was to roll up and unroll the weight. I did this a couple of times twice a day.

I just Googled cording’s proper name and it appears to be Axillary Web Syndrome.

Has anyone else had experience with cording and would you like to share it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Building Strength

Yesterday afternoon, after having had some lunch, I started to feel better. I picked up my laptop and began reading blogs. Well once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I just got so drawn in to people's stories ... I think it is a bit healing for me. Before I knew it ... it was time to go to bed.

But before going to sleep I took an Ativan. Ativan helps me with the transition from my disruptive sleeps caused by the steroids ... to a normal relaxed sleep. I may take one more tonight but I expect that should do it.

This morning I was off for the weekly PICC line dressing change. Everything continues to look good around that PICC line.

Generally, I am feeling better ... I just need to build strength ... I think a nap might be in order.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Feeling Fragile

I’m still feeling fragile emotionally. I know its part of the chemo cycle but it’s hard to deal with. I wish I could just snap myself out of this down in the dumps feeling.

Generally it takes a good week after chemo to start feeling half normal and that is just a day or two away ... that's when my old self should start creeping back in.

I think that will be all for now ... I hate this part of the cycle and I hate sharing it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Worst Days Are Over

With chemo last Tuesday, the worst days are now over.

The last few days were rough as expected. I felt very medicated and numb ... sort of zombie-like. I would just stared at the walls for hours on end. I wanted nothing but for time to pass. I ended up taking Ativan to sleep the time away ... sometimes it worked ... sometimes it didn’t.

As I lay in bed, I’d hear the sounds of people busy living their lives ... there would be children playing, dogs barking, adults talking, all sorts of activities going on. How jealous was I? What I wouldn’t do for a few hours of normal life.

I wish I could feel excitement and enthusiasm again. I wish I could get excited about a new outfit, a new pair of shoes, going to the green house, meeting with friends, maybe a vacation ... but right now none of that excites me in the least. I could care less.

It feels like cancer and its treatment have sucked the life out of me. I just don’t want to do anything. As the days go by and I become stronger these feelings will improve but for now ... that is it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day Three After Chemo

Well yesterday we went out for lunch with family. I had a good meal and a good nap after wards.

Last night's sleep was pretty good ... I woke up often but fell a sleep shortly afterward so none of that up for two or three hours at a time.

Today I notice the fatigue is a bit worse and my breathing is a bit labored. My husband said he noticed it last night already. My nose is getting a bit stuffier.

Yesterday I had my first nose bleed. I expect more of those next week.

For the remainder of the weekend, I'll be taking it easy. I had a shower and my pj's are on.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Good Days / Bad Nights

Yesterday was a good day which included breakfast out with family and the afternoon included a coffee with my breast cancer friends.

Tuesday I had chemo and am still on my steroid days, so to take advantage of these good days and to extend them a bit, I saved a couple of steroids for today.

On the flip side, the steroids cause bad nights. The sleeps are broken up. On Monday night it was pretty bad but Tuesday night I managed to sleep 7.5 hours straight. Wow that was great. Last night my sleep was once again a challenge but O.K.

When I was getting my chemo, I asked the nurse about sleeping pills. She said with sleeping pills you will sleep but it won’t give you quality sleep you’re looking for ... you wake up feeling real groggy. She recommended I just deal with the effects of the steroids. I have asked many people about sleeping pills and have read numerous blogs that discussed sleeping pills and to be honest I haven’t heard too many positive things about them ... so once again, I think I will put them on the back burner and just deal with the effects of the steroids as the nurse recommended.

I’m starting to feel the effects of the chemo ... feeling weaker and my eyes are starting to glaze over a tiny bit.

Tomorrow till Sunday/Monday I’ll be feeling my worst. I like to call them my pajama days.

Today my plans are to get out and about just one more time.