My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

2014.  It has been a year.  A life altering, inconceivable, hell of a year.

It wasn’t all bad, of course.  Great things happened in 2014.  I worked a lot and had some exciting residencies, working with students of all ages in all five boroughs.  I watched Oliver learn how to walk, talk, make jokes.  I watched him take risks like run into a freezing cold sprinkler in the summer, choose the tall slide where the big kids play, ask to get pushed higher in the swing.

As a family, we took our first real vacation together.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest so we traveled to Oregon, stopping in Portland and Willamette, we drove down the coast, stopping at each beach along the way, even though it was freezing cold out.

IMG_6749 IMG_6808 IMG_7203There were so many great things about 2014 but behind it all, just waiting to make it’s debut, was my cancer.  Behind every smile, every embrace, every surprise and accomplishment, my cancer was growing and spreading silently, waiting to change everything forever.

I want to say that I’ve come out the other end of this year stronger and braver.  I guess I have.  Did I have any other choice?  But more than anything I’m angry that this has happened to me and my family.  I don’t feel brave.  I feel afraid every moment of the day.  Afraid that I will get too sick to move, to care for Oliver, to be a good wife.  Afraid that despite the poison that is pumping through my veins, promising to kill the cancer, it is really spreading or will come back one day anyway.  I’m afraid that when it’s all over, I won’t know what to do next, how to move on.  This is how 2014 has left me.

I wish I could be inspirational and tell you all of the wonderful things I have learned this year.  Say that this has all been a blessing in disguise and that I’ve grown as a person.  But that would be a lie.  I just want to kick 2014 out of my life, kick it in the ass.  The same with 2015, which won’t be much better.

In 2015, I will continue with 2 1/2 more months of chemotherapy, begin radiation, continue treatment for the clinical trial and finally get more surgery when I have my breast reconstructed.  2015 is going to be a long year.  I just hope at the end of it all, I can hear the words “cancer free.”  I hope that I will be able to look at all that I have been through and see the purpose of it all.  Understand why this has happened to me.  Will I ever understand why this happened to me?

When can it be 2016?


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Thank You For the Support in 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Back In The Game

After a very rough two weeks of blood transfusions, hospitalizations, fevers, sickness and many tests, whatever had gotten me down seems to be finally gone.  We did test after test to make sure I didn’t have an infection but none of them came out positive.  We are sure that I just had a virus but during all of this, my red blood cell count tanked and then, after leaving the hospital, my white blood cell count tanked.  I got four days worth of shots to boost my immunity and it worked.

Yesterday, after a two week hiatus I continued with my second treatment of Taxol and Herceptin.  I’m so happy that I am beginning again (not that I want chemo but I need it, so they say).  I’m still frustrated that I had to take such a long break and now my end date is much further away, or at least that is how it seems to me.  I now have 10 more treatments to go.  By tomorrow, I should have been down to 8.  That’s a tough pill to swallow.

I’m taking every action possible to make sure that I don’t have any more setbacks, although I know it isn’t completely in my control.  I’m being even more anal about hand washing and sanitizing.  I’m wearing a mask on the subway, despite the stares and whispers.  What do they know?  Haven’t they seen stranger things on the subway.  I’m sure I do each day.

But I’m going back to work after the new year and I’m nervous about being in schools and around children again.  I was very excited to be going back but after what I have been through, I’m scared to do most things.  On Sunday, Ken took Oliver to the children’s museum but I stayed home, too afraid to be around a place that is sure to have germs on every surface.  I don’t want to stop my life but I can’t let this happen again.

For those of you who have gone through this, how did you handle these fears?  Am I being a little crazy?


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And The Nightmare Continued….More

It’s like a title to a bad horror movie flick.  But no.  It’s my life these days.  I feel like the news, the side effects, the illness keep getting thrown at me without warning, without a break, without mercy.  I’m surviving.  I’m ok.  My team has got my back but it’s hard to take in.

Everything seemed to be on the way back to normal after I left the hospital.  I had energy (some) and I was feeling pretty good.  The night of Oliver’s birthday, we went to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn to look at all the Christmas lights, a birthday tradition.  We took it slow but just the trip tuckered me out.  When we got home I had a small dinner but couldn’t eat much.  My appetite hadn’t come back.  Food didn’t make me nauseous but none of it looked good and tasted worse.  Nothing tasted anything like what it actually was and that is completely off-putting.

Sunday morning I woke up and had no energy and never recovered during the day.  I ended up popping a tylenol and made it to my aunt’s Chanukkah party that night but still couldn’t eat or drink.  I was wiped by the night’s end.  So I cancelled my work for the next day so I could just rest.

On Monday….God, I actually can’t remember Monday.  Did this week even have a Monday in it?  Did we skip it somehow?  Unlikely, but I can’t remember a thing.

Then yesterday I woke up from a terrible night’s sleep.  I was shaky, light headed, dizzy and completely lacked energy.  I think it had been almost a week since I had a proper meal.  I had an appointment first thing in the morning with my breast surgeon for a follow up (which went fine) but I think it was very good that I was back at the cancer center.  My nurse, Heidi, came in to check on me and I told her that I was not doing well at all.  I think I must have looked like shit because she asked me to stay, have more blood work done, and get some fluids for rehydration.  What should have been a 15 minute doctor’s visit turned into a 4 hour stay.  Which was necessary, but a pain in the ass.

We’re waiting on the blood cultures, which we think will still come back negative for any infection.  We think I’m just fighting a virus and that my body just doesn’t have the defenses to fight it.  My white blood cell count tanked which has also contributed to the general feeling of crappiness.  They gave me an immuno-boost shot yesterday, I went back today for another one and then two more on Friday and Saturday.

I was supposed to be continuing with my chemo today but we had to postpone that yet again because of my white blood cells.  Hopefully by Monday I will be good enough to continue.  I don’t want to put this off any longer.  I want to move toward the end.  So, I’m eating and drinking whether I like it or not because that will make me healthy.  Shrimp tastes good to me.  Go figure.

Anyway, I’m missing my best friends annual Feast of the Seven Fishes tonight.  She’s going to have, like, 20 people there and I can’t take that risk.  If someone is even thinking of getting sick I’ll catch it and that would be bad.  I can’t have another setback.  So it’s me and the TV today.  Oliver is with my parents to I can recuperate.  Ken is working.

There’s one more kicker to this whole thing.  One more thing to add to the shit that is my life.  One more thing to make me angry.  One more thing to make me feel shamed.  Chemo can put a woman into a temporary menopause.  Well, it looks like my menopause started hitting me two nights ago because I’m having hot flashes and soaking through my pajamas.  Seriously, it’s like I jumped into a pool of my own sweat.  It’s awful.  Fucking terribly awful.

I’m 37.  I have breast cancer.  I’ve lost my breast, my hair, my eyelashes and eyebrows are on their way out, I feel like shit and now….I’M GOING THROUGH FUCKING MENOPAUSE!!!!!!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

FUCK!

The end.

Fin.

Scene.


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A Letter To Oliver On His 2nd Birthday

Dear Oliver,

I can’t believe that exactly two years ago, 16 days past your due date (I cried every one of those days because I ached to meet you) you came into my life and changed it forever.  You made entering the world difficult so I couldn’t hold you at first. But when they got you I heard you crying.  I called to you, letting you know that I was close by.  Your crying stopped.

IMG_4129The first thing that I remember about you is that you had your Daddy’s nose, my pout and that before you started to cry, you would snort like a little piggy.  I nicknamed you, Piglet.  We fell in love with you instantly and you made us into a new family.

new familyIt wasn’t very long before your personality started to spring out of you.  You would just smile and make the funniest faces, as if you wanted to make the world laugh, something you love to do now.

IMG_1924 IMG_2238 IMG_1394The thing I love about you most is that you are gentle and caring beyond your years.  I don’t know of any other baby who would be so patient and understanding of his mother’s ailing needs.IMG_5234We are a perfect pair.  I was meant to be your mother and you were meant to be my son.

IMG_0973 IMG_4656 IMG_3477 IMG_3024 IMG_6939 0006 IMG_5606You love to make jokes and make everyone around you laugh.  You love to eat applesauce, granola, peas, chicken, blackberries, apples and cookies but you’ll try almost anything, even foie gras!!!!  Your passion are NYC subway trains.  You know almost every line by letter and color and beg every day for a ride.  We try to oblige.  You also love singing your abc’s and counting to 10, even though you’ve made it to 15 a few times.  You love to run up and down hills screaming, “Yay!  Alright!” over and over again.  You love your friends and never hesitate to give them a hug or a tickle.  Your favorite books are, Subway, Goodnight Moon, Play and Learn Slide and Find ABC, Yummy Yucky and No No, Yes Yes.  You give the best snuggles and each one is never long enough for me, but I always agree to let you go.

These last two years have been the best of my life and I can’t wait to experience the next one.  When you are two, you will go to school for the first time, learn to speak full sentences and be able to jump, all things you are working so hard on right now.

Thank you for letting me be your mother and sharing your joy with me every day.  No matter what life may bring, I will move mountains to be with you.  Overcome every struggle.

I love you!  Happy Birthday!

Love,

Mommy


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Setback: The Nightmare Continues

As if my week couldn’t get any worse…as if cancer isn’t awful as it is, I ended up in the hospital ER last night.  For the third night in a row I was running a fever with the chills and body aches.  As a precaution, the doctor on call wanted me to come in to make sure I wasn’t harboring an infection.

Two days ago, because I had run a fever for the first time, on the day I was supposed to get my chemo but didn’t, they took blood cultures from both my arm and my mediport.  They wanted to test to see if I had in infection somewhere in my body or if it was coming from the mediport.  The rough part of that is that it takes about 3-5 days to get a full report, although they tell me if there is a major infection, it tends to show up within the first 24-48 hours.

Let me start off by saying, I have never been to the ER.  Holy shit!!!!  What a scary place.  The good news is, when you have cancer and are undergoing chemo, you get the red carpet treatment.  Meaning, I got a curtained off space away from the pukers and the drunks.  I got to NYU Tisch at about 10:30 pm.  I saw the nurse several times.  They took more blood, stuck these very long q-tips up my nose to test for the flu but I managed to talk her out of a rectal thermometer.  I eventually saw a doctor who said that I have been keeping very good documentation of my temperatures and that is what mattered.  Let that be a lesson to you all!!!!!  Keep documentation of your temperatures if you don’t want to be invaded in every hole in your body in a NYC ER!

That was one of the only positive things the doctors had to say.  They were very concerned that my infection was coming from my mediport and, if that was the case, I would have to have a surgery to have it removed and then replaced again.  Not fun at all.  There was talk of waiting until all of my results came back in a few days but a thought of just doing it so I wouldn’t go septic and the infection wouldn’t invade my “brain, heart valves, organs..”  WHAT???????!!!!!!!!!!

We saw another doctor who said the same thing.  He was very nice but had a very dismal outlook on what was happening with me.  He even predicted that I’d be in the hospital for 5-7 days.  WHAT????????!!!!!!!!!

After being in the ER for four hours, I was finally given a room at 2:30 am.  I probably fell asleep at 3:00 am but I was interrupted pretty much all night and was up for good at about 5:45 am.  I don’t know how I’m even writing this right now (forgive my typos and grammatical errors).

I spoke to my nurse today, who spoke with my oncologist, and the flu test actually came back positive for a cold.  I don’t even feel like I have a cold!!!!  I had a cold about 2 1/2 months ago right after my first AC treatment but have had a runny nose ever since.  I wonder if this is something that has been lingering.  Who knows.  But they seem to think that this is what has been causing my fevers and that by the end of the day, I’m just  run down.  But we have to see.

I’m waiting to see the doctor to find out more.  I don’t know when I’m going to be released.  I suspect that they will want to keep me for observation one more night.  I’d like to get the heck out of here but I guess we need to be sure.

So here I am.  Stuck in a hospital bed.  I really haven’t seen Oliver since Monday and I miss him desperately.  Tomorrow is his birthday so I’m hoping I’ll be out by then.  I’d hate to miss his special day.  Actually, I think it would kill me.


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True Blood

Tru-Blood

I’ve had a slight setback.  I came in for my second chemo treatment yesterday but my blood test results showed that my red blood cell count has dropped drastically.  As a result, they canceled my treatment and right now I am getting a blood transfusion.

When I found out yesterday that this was going to happen, I was shocked, frustrated and angry.  I have been feeling so much better.  I’m not completely back to normal but I’ve had a lot more energy and I have been out in the world doing things.  I thought for sure that I was on the mend and that when my blood counts came back I’d see a huge improvement.  Not so.  My white blood cells and platelets are very good but I’m severely anemic.  The doctors were shocked too because someone with my numbers should be pale and white and laid up in bed.  I’m definitely asymptomatic.

That’s good news but I took the news of having to skip my chemo and do this transfusion really hard.  I cried all day long.  I know I haven’t done anything wrong and chemo is a tough bitch and can do this to a person.  It’s not abnormal.  But I still can’t help but feel like I’ve failed a little.  Just like I want to be a good student and strive for perfection, I want to be the same with my treatment.  No failures.  No setbacks.  The end feels so far away already, to have it pushed back even by one week makes the journey feel infinite.  I just want this to end and I want my life back.

They said that the transfusion should give me more energy and that by tomorrow I should be feeling good.  I hope so.  Oliver’s birthday is on Saturday and I want to feel great for him.

Two steps forward, one step back.  Cancer doesn’t let anyone off easy.