Beginning of Year--thought I'd be mostly recovered by now, ready to take on my previous life BC (before cancer)
--worried that my brain would not resolve, that I would be left with residual chemo brain.
--hot flashes that make me breathe to get through them. Will they ever end?
--hair; what to do with it now that it's back?
End of Year--physically, my energy has returned, mostly, though there are days that I could sleep (and have slept) for hours.
--I've been able to jog. Challenging for me to be physically active. I think I'm basically a slug, but I like being able to do moderately physical activities like water ski and cross country ski and roller skate and dance...
--but twirling--heck, even turning around a couple times in the kitchen--puts my brain off kilter. Feels like chemo fog. So not fun that I hesitate to even go to a dance. Waltz, maybe...?? Um, No. Thanks.
--thought processes/chemo brain. I noticed maybe near the end of summer that the fog had lifted somewhat, that I seemed to be thinking better. Every once in a while I still get foggy. I still lose words, train of thought, difficulty reading, difficulty comprehending. While reading or trying to follow a process, sometimes the brain just stops. I've learned to stop and change activities, to accept it and come back to it at another time. The frustration seems to delay the recovery time. Fatigue and stress aggravate it, as do multiple requests, like multi tasking more than 3 things (like at work. That can be a huge challenge.) And background noise is annoying.
--hot flashes. Yup. Still have them, not as frequently as 3 and 4 times an hour, and sometimes not as bad, but still there. My wardrobe has changed from turtlenecks under sweatshirts to wicking fabric camisole under comfortable short sleeved medium to light weight cotton knit shirts. Winter coat fastened up to neck/scarf/hat/gloves--used only when temps are 10 degrees or less and windy. When I go outdoors in below 32 degree weather I wonder if my head is steaming like the football players' when they take their helmets off...
--hair. It's back. It's a love/dislike relationship. Happy to have it, even though the cowlicks have moved from the left side of my head over to the right. I thought I might try letting the hair on my head get a little longer than to the tops of my ears. Ugh. Too hot, and styling didn't hold for the 14 hour work days. So it's still short. The rest of the body hair came back and looks familiar to me, except for the hair on my arms. Used to be a moderate amount; now, thin and not much of it.
--lymphedema. the left upper quadrant of my torso has been challenged to deal with the interruption of the lymphatic channel, with fluid that just doesn't know where to go. The physical therapist has very good technique that helps immensely, but I seem to have to "play the game" to get the treatment that I need. I also have an excellent massage therapist who is getting better with fluid movement with each appointment.
Cancer. Breast Cancer. CA. Breast Malignancy. Lymph Involvement. Breast Disease with Lymph Involvement.
Diagnosed November 2007. Surgeries #1=Lumpectomy and Lymph Node Dissection #2=Revision of Left Lumpectomy. Chemotherapy. Radiation ended June 5, 2008. Started Hormonal Therapy with Tamoxifen in August 2008 x 11 months, changed to Arimidex August 2009. Still having 6 month follow ups with oncologist.
Yes, I'm "out of treatment" and I look "normal". Life is different now. Just when I've forgotten about It, appointment time rolls around, or there's a sharp pain in a woundbed, or my arm is swollen. Or I notice that I don't have my wedding rings on. I haven't been able to wear them since...surgery?? I don't remember.
Answering questionnaires and filling out forms for health stuff.
I may not have an active cancer now, but I will always have cancer brought to the surface. Sometimes that reality is quite sobering.
I have to thank and praise God for my wellness, for my amazing ability get through each day (with His help), and for the remarkable people who have surrounded me with their love, who continue to help me every day, whether they know it or not.
Thank you for reading. Hugs.