With a lumpectomy, you must make yourself exercise in order for your arm to be able to lift up above your head normally, otherwise it will freeze that way for ever. Within a month, I exercised it to the point that I could lift it and I was proud of myself. The pain doing it was awful but I didn't want a frozen arm.
I experienced a lot of pain in the operated area. Sometimes, it felt like I would be brought down to my knees. I was very weak but with perseverance, I grew stronger as the days went by. Then came the day I was to see the Oncologist to see what treatments I would be given. Apparently, I met all the criteria for a clinical trial study so I agreed to be part of the study. The good thing about being in a clinical trial is that the follow you for the rest of your life. They set up my annual mammograms and do blood work. I felt better protected I guess. I was like a little baby with all of this around me. I didn't know if I could live through it or get through it.
On Feb 27th, I met with my cancer doctor and since I agreed to be in the clinical trial, the type of treatment was chosen for me at random. I got the Canadian treatment. The other two were the US and Britain. I had to do 6 months of chemo and 25 radiation treatments.
I had to travel during the chemo to Montreal to a convention and I was so sick. My Doctor preferred me not to go but felt it was up to me. In my hotel room, I used face cloths to try to cool my temperature down. When a temperature gets to 40 degrees c, I would need to get myself to an emergency department. It is very dangerous for cancer patients to have a high temperature like this.
My veins were starting to become really small and hard to get, so they put in a port-a-cath in my chest, about my left breast. This would make it a lot easier and no pain for me when they had to give me chemo and when they had to take my blood. I had to be flushed weekly so I would go to the doctor or the VON nurses came in to my home and flushed clear fluid through it to keep it clear of clots.
The chemo almost killed me. I am in the 1% that can die from chemo. I had clots in both lungs, a (DVT) deep vein thrombosis in my upper thigh. Then I had blood coming out of me and had to go to a Hematologist and take warfin/comodin (sorry if it's misspelled). I ended up with a severe fever and was in hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. While in the hospital,my blood was so low, they had to give me a blood transfusion. While trying to take blood, the nurse pushed the needle into my hose inside my chest instead of in the hole. I yelled. Within 20 minutes, my chest was infected and then they had to take blood from my foot and that really is so painful. The next day I was wheeled down to have the port-a-cath removed and before I left the hospital, I had a pick-line inserted into my upper right arm. This would have to be flushed everyday, so the VON nurses would do that.
I had every side affect of chemo and then some and I had every side affect of every pill/drug I was given. My hair was gone, I had no energy and I was so sick. My granddaughter was 9 at the time and she begged me to call the doctor one night around 1 a.m., so I did, because she said to me, " Please call the doctor nanny cause I'm too young for you to die". That broke my heart. There was more than just myself to think about so I did. I had to wait so long for the on-call Oncologist to come to the phone I hung up. The next day, Layla went home with her grandfather and I kept my promise and called the hospital back and they were looking for me all night. I promised to go to the Oncologist the next day.
The next day, my doctor was off sick and had Dr. Davis to look after me. She is amazing. My brother drove my sister and I to the Oncologist and the doctor took one look at me plus my blood was only 78 and should have been a lot higher so I needed a transfusion. This was the day I ended up in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks.
The last chemo I was to take was in August of 2003 and my doctor reduced my chemo by 25%, he said I already had two strikes against me and he didn't want to chance a 3rd strike. I don't think he felt I would make it and maybe I wouldn't have.
Chemo patients are affected in different parts of our body. One woman, my mentor, mention how she lost her skin in her private areas; our skin gets translucent due to the drugs your own and so much more. Sometimes I don't want to remember anything and the worst is the fear that it will come back.
The radiation treatments seem easy. You lay down on a table and they set up the machine and it radiates you for 1 minute. But it affects you later. The one thing you should know is that Dove Soap is the only soap radiation patients should use because of the moisturizer within the soap. To this day, Dove Soap is the only soap I use. It also doesn't affect people with sensitivities, like me!
They say chemo makes you very tired but I have to say they haven't created a word to truly describe what tired really means. Since that is the only word we cancer patients have, tired is beyond any imagination of what the worst tired could possibly be and then some.
I can only say to never give up and keep the faith. Make sure someone or people look in on you if you life alone because I was alone and people stayed away because they thought I needed the rest!!! I needed them, that's what I needed so my granddaughter Layla and little guy Rialey who was only 5 months old, kept me going.
Belief in God, prayers and hope help me along with friends and family. But it was the kids that got me the most. They gave me a reason for living because dying seemed so much easier at that time. Today, Rialey is 9 and he worries about me all the time that I'm going to die. I just have to keep reassuring him that I'm going to be here for a very long time. He asked me to live at least until he is 14 but I said I plan on being here a lot longer than that.
I love these kids. They are my reason for living and life is so precious. For the many cancer patients who haven't made it, we have an annual candlelight celebration of life and remember them.
Don't give up, keep a journal, ask lots of questions to your doctors and be thankful for your life because so many others have lost theirs. The last thing I want to say is thank my God for our public health care. I can't imagine the costs of my care but it costs me nothing. I can say to anyone, anywhere in the world, publicly delivered & funded health care provide better care because no profits should be made off the backs of the sick, ill and dying and don't forget the impact on the families. Ask your governments for publicly funded and delivered health care because some cuts don't heal.
Thanks for listening to my story.