I have been busy with multiple doctor appointments over the last few weeks and just plain old life. The worst of radiation is over for me. My skin was angry, red and just sore…now it’s starting to look normal. If I played a game of “guess which of these things isn’t like the other”, it wouldn’t be hard to guess which was the affected boobie! My GP, Dr. OK, scheduled a physical a couple weeks back. My white blood cell count was low likely a result of the radiation. She said she will do follow up blood work in about 3 months to make sure it corrects itself. I also met with my oncologists this week for follow ups and looks like it’s now wait and see. So I am more or less treated! Dare I say cured?! Basically if I have no sign of recurrence in the next couple of years, my risk of recurrence is reduced. So regular follow ups are necessary. So pay attention people to how you are feeling and make sure to schedule your follow up appointments. It’s easy to put things off…and or rationalize why you feel the way you do. Any new symptoms?! Check it out! It’s all about early detection! Anyway, I have to pay attention to any new symptoms but have to balance this with not being a hypochondriac!
I need to take medication for a minimum of 5 years because my cancer spreads via my hormones. There are definitely some side effects from the drugs that I really hope start to taper off once my body adjusts to it. Side effects include Hot flashes, Cold flashes, Mood Swings, Insomnia, Fatigue…. I suppose a small price to pay to keep cancer at bay. I continue to sleep with my towel. There was some talk of surgery to remove my ovaries..and I will have to see about that in January. I have a few more appointments before end of this month but am so looking forward to not seeing any doctors for awhile. I love my docs but honestly the less I see them the better. Plus sometime in October or November I have to go for my first colonoscopy. I hope it isn’t too shitty of an experience…lol
I agreed to participate in a Breast Cancer Weight Loss Study. I qualified as I met the specific criteria, one being that I am overweight…dare I say “obese”? Personally, I see studies as opportunities to potentially help someone else that could get this disease. Yeah for being fat!! This is the second study I have joined. The first had to do with the number of injections required to bring up my white blood cell count during chemo treatments. For this specific study, they are going to examine my tumour tissue and take blood samples to look for biomarkers in my cancer cells and blood which may help predict if patients may be helped by weight loss. This study will take 4 years to complete and results will be known in approximately 10 years. Crazy eh? Who knows what they will discover?!
Once I do a few blood tests and answer some questions, I will be randomized into 1 of 2 groups. One is more or less a health education program while the other includes a 2 year weight loss program. I have struggled with my weight all my life so praying I get into group 2 because if it could help me shed some pounds…I am all for it. Meanwhile my oncologist told me the medication I need to take daily causes weight gain. I tell you it’s like a losing battle for me PLUS I do love my groceries!! They also say that if you eat more plant based dishes it is better for you. All I know is I have been trying to stay away from “processed foods” as much as humanly possible. Also really watch your “labels” on the foods you eat. Watch to make sure the food is GMO free or not genetically modified and there is no hidden sugars etc. Given I have not been working I can actually take the time to cook and make homemade meals. Some people swear if they eat “VEGAN” it will help “squash” no pun intended, the cancer… This said, I have met at least 3 women that were vegan most of their lives and have the dreaded disease. In fact, these women had a more aggressive treatment than I had. So I think it’s likely a combination of factors that cause cancer. I am all about balance! I am definitely not a fanatic but am trying to load up on my greens and continue to try to limit red meat. I still love a juicy steak and/or burger.
This is the time for me to relax, recoup and rebuild my stamina etc. I have tried a few yoga and zumba classes as I want to get back into the groove. There is one instructor that teaches yoga which is so relaxing you basically could nod off. She actually has a ringing bowl that chimes to help wake people up. That specific class is mostly stretching and snoozing, if you ask me. Interestingly, you do feel better after taking it. Meanwhile in other yoga classes I have tried, you can break a sweat and feel like you did a good workout. Zumba, on the other hand, makes me forget all my troubles and the music makes me feel like I am on vacation at some tropical resort…the salsa, bachata, bolero, mambo, cha cha and cumbia. I have no idea what dance is what and just move! It’s all about moving and staying active and mostly about having fun!! I recommend trying Zumba!
I am really appreciating the time I am spending at home. I definitely will not rush back to work if I can help it… Cancer can certainly play with your emotions or maybe it’s the drugs they give you that mess you up?! I just can’t tell anymore. I am finding that I don’t want to waste time on stuff that causes me unnecessary stress. I have always been an anxious, nervous, or what some would say, a plain old worry wart! So, when the hospital provided a list of courses for cancer patients that provide emotional support, I jumped at the chance. One course I enrolled in is suppose to help reduce stress. I will be sure to share tips! I also enrolled in another course called “Picking up the Pieces” which is offered by the Hope Hospice that I joined. Basically to help cancer patients to pick up the pieces once they have completed treatment. Both courses are taught by qualified psycho-therapists and are approximately 10-12 weeks long. I have heard great things about both and am looking forward to attending in September. I believe there will be homework.
I also have been staying busy at the York Region Food Network. I accidentally discovered it while I was at the Hope Hospice. It is conveniently found in the same building where I was taking yoga. Basically their mission is to offer programs and education to ensure that people of York Region have healthy and sustainable food. They offer a multitude of workshops. For example, I attended a workshop called “Food for Health” which was conducted by a local nutritionist. On Fridays, I cook different recipes led by a chef and we get to sample what we make plus package up the extras, which are then delivered to the Canadian Mental Health Association. I had no idea of all the community based programs available. Plus I am enjoying meeting different people in my community.
What I am finding scary is the number of people that I have met that have some type of cancer. It is truly an epidemic! I am hoping they find a cure or figure out what is causing it. Everyone one of us will be or already have been touched by cancer…I just pray for us all. I personally think our food is a huge contributor to the disease.
Anyway I wanted to give you a quick update about my whereabouts over the last month. Plus if there is any wisdom I can pass along it would be to tell you “FU” or “Follow up”. Follow up is important but it’s really about making sure you pay attention to your body and don’t make excuses for not seeing your doc. Lastly be open to trying new things. Try Zumba or something new this week! Get moving!