My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here I am!

I have just recently realized how sick I was last year during my treatment.  I know that was probably  pretty obvious to others- and it sounds almost silly saying it out loud, but for me, I just did my best to get through each day no matter how horrible I felt and tried my best to convince myself I was not sick. I would get up in the morning and try to look as if I had eyebrows and eyelashes by putting on make up. And I would then wrap my bald head in a bandanna.  I would try to work at least half a day, attempt to ride my bike and even on the very rare occasion socialize- Cancer can be pretty isolating.  All these memories have hit me hard over the past week.  But the good news is, I have rapidly begun to start to feel like myself before I got sick. I think I remember what it feels like to be me again- Here I am!  

Now, don't mistake this for "I'm over it or that I'm cured", but it is a fantastic feeling to wake up in the morning and not feel like my body has been completely taken over by aliens. 

As I mentioned in my prior posts, I am back to training for the bike racing season.  My legs are starting to remember what fatigue through fitness is all about.  We have lucked out with two great weekends in a row of fairly mild temperatures (anything above 35 degrees is ideal for winter road riding) and we have been able to get the miles in our legs.   This past Saturday we added more miles (46 to be exact) and with a couple more hills.  Sunday was a bit shorter with a few less hills, but my legs were still screaming by the end.  It felt great! 

While work and training are keeping me really busy, I have not been without my share of doctor appointments.  Since my last entry, I have had my biweekly physically therapy appointments, a routine Eco- Cardiogram ( I have them ever 3 months to make sure the Herceptin is not damaging my heart) and a brain CT scan.  Oh, right....I forgot to mention that. Frankly, I debated whether or not I would blog about it at all.  I hardly told anyone I was going in for this scan.  I figured the less energy I gave it, the more likely it would just be another nuisance and not one of my biggest fears.  Plus, I did not feel like worrying anyone.

Why the brain CT?   I had been having these horrible headaches.  Every time I go in for my Herceptin treatment I see my oncologist first.  She gives me a health survey to fill out.  It's more like a two page check list to see what my side effects are.  It ranges from bloody noses, itchy skin, vision problems, bone aches, etc.   Thankfully, most of my side-effects have slowly moved from the Yes column to the No column. Headaches and the random bloody noses have remained in the Yes column.  About 2 months ago my oncologist asked me about these headaches more in depth.  She casually suggested a brain MRI but unfortunately, I can't have an MRI until my tissue expanders are removed.  They have metal in them so it doesn't mix so well with the MRI machine.  Anyway, the next best option is a CT scan.   After a small discussion about when I should get this scan, we decided collectively, that if in two months the headaches were still there, I would get the scan.  So, two months were up.

All in all, it was a pretty uneventful trip to the hospital. But with any of these scans or tests I have had to go through, they are all none the less  very nerve wracking.  I only had to wait 24 hours for the results and it was a relief to hear back from my nurse- "It's confirmed, you have a brain". 

You may be wondering what the doctors were looking for.  Once a patient is diagnosed with Invasive Breast Cancer, it is just that- Invasive.  In my case, it had left the breast tissue and entered my lymphatic system. This is reason number 1 for having all the chemotherapy treatments and radiation.  My biggest fear is that my cancer will come back in an organ or in my bones.  The most common metastases for breast cancer is to the bone, lungs, liver or brain.  The scan was to rule out the obvious and according to the results it appears to have just been a headache.  I have my own theories on what is causing these headaches.  Hercpetin can cause headaches, but it could also be the tension I have had to hold in my shoulders and back since my surgery last May.  I would not be surprised if that was the culprit behind my headaches. 

Of course, none of this will stop me from training, working or living my life to the fullest.

It is now March and while the snow is melting quickly, spring is still a little ways away.  G and I planned a quick getaway down south.  A little spring training and RnR seemed in order for both of us, especially my guy.  Maybe when we get back all the snow will be gone and the woods will be all dried out.....a gal can dream can't she?!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Steady miles and spreading the love.

Despite the predicted snow this past weekend, G and I manged to get 5 1/2 hours of road riding in.  Saturday was a chilly start and we even saw some snow flurries!  Once we got moving, we warmed up and were able to get in just over 33 steady miles.  

On Sunday, I was invited to join some fellow mountain bike racers for a group road ride.  It was so awesome to have the invite and it made me feel really great to have this particular group even think of including me.  I had to graciously decline as I am not feeling quite ready for a ride at a group pace.  I'll get there, but it is so important for me to take it slow right now.  I still got out there on Sunday and finished another 37 miles with my guy.  He is so encouraging and helps me in more ways then he even knows.  I could not ask for a better training partner.   

I felt really great both days.  I was a little more comfortable and steadier on the Sunday ride.  My legs felt strong.  My heart rate was steady and my lungs felt clear.  This is all very promising that I will be back up to speed in no time.  As much as I miss riding my bike in the woods,  being out there on the open road made my head clearer than it has been in weeks. 

My arm felt alright....Not great,  but not horrible.  I need to build my strength up in my arms again so I can lean over on the handle bars for long distances. I am still in physical therapy and it seems to be helping my arm cording a lot.  I wear a compression sleeve while I'm riding.  According to my therapist, I show no signs of lymphedema but she suggests that I wear the sleeve during strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. I am not sure I completely believe that it will prevent me from getting lymphedema but as long as it's not hurting me, why not?! 

I have a busy week ahead.  It seems like my cancer treatment/follow up care is still a full time job.  I already had P/T today and will have my second session on Thursday.  Tomorrow morning I have to head back to the dentist to have my second filling replaced since I ended treatment.  I have read of some patients having horrible teeth problems post treatment.  I just didn't expect it so soon!  Actually my teeth and gum's looks great so it could just be a coincidence that two fillings broke within two weeks....I go straight from the dentist to my  6 week follow up with my radiation oncologist.  Hard to believe I have been finished radiation for 6 weeks already!  My skin looks good and I feel good so I don't anticipate this being a long appointment. 

For the most part, life is coming back to a sense of normalcy for me.  I still have moments of What the hell happened to me?!  but  I am sure I always will.  It will hopefully fade away with time.

It is Valentines Day and at the risk of sounding totally corny- I am so grateful for all the love in my life.  Family, friends and of course my guy.  I could never have done this without all of you.  I am a lucky woman.

Happy Valentines Day to all of you! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dear Cancer....

Dear Cancer,

You are not welcome here or anywhere for that matter, so please just go away!  I am tired of losing people to your wrath and I am tired of hearing of your invasions into peoples bodies and their lives.  Until the world is rid of your evil, I will continue to fight my personal battle against you and help my friends and loved ones that suffer their own fight. 

I should have written to you long ago,  but  F. U.  cancer!!!!!


Friday, February 4, 2011

If you must know.

I took my first Tamoxifen pill last night....So far so good. I'm exhausted today,  but I don't think one has anything to do with the other.  After my last post, I had received some gentle nudges from some family ( AuntK) and other loved ones ( G).  I also had a good friend suggest to me to just think of it as another daily vitamin.  So, let the 5 year count down begin.  Only 1,824 pills to go!

It is Friday and they say we have more snow on the way for tomorrow.  Good grief.  I wonder when winter will end and the idea of riding my bike in the woods will stop being just a dream?  I have started back up on my indoor trainer- which is so boring,  But I have to get the pedaling in some how.   G and I had planned to try and get some road miles in on Sunday.  The weather looks like it might clear up and be close to 40 degrees, BUT my poor guy has sprained his knee.  I just hope he feels better soon.  We have some serious training to do!

Have a great weekend!  


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I just can't get myself to do it.

Every three weeks I have to go for a  follow up with my oncologist and get my Herceptin treatment.   This will continue on until I am finished with Herceptin in September of this year.  During my last visit with DrW, we discussed a few important things.  Among those topics was Tamoxifen - the hormonal treatment that I have to take everyday for the next 5 years.  Since a strong percentage of my cancer fed on estrogen ( ER + ) this is a continuation of my treatments to help keep this cancer away for good.  You would think I would want to take this pill and yesterday!  Needless to say, I am not overly anxious to start a new drug.  Especially since I finally feel like my body has almost detoxed from all the chemo.  I have been really nervous to start.  Like all pharmaceutical drugs, there is always the potential for side effects.  Some worse than others and it has me very anxious.  While the topic of whether or not to take the pill was not  up for discussion, ( DrW said "you HAVE to take it") when I start taking it was.  "I don't care which day, you pick but when I see you next, I want you to have started." So, it's been two weeks and everyday I take my regular vitamins and I stare at this bottle of pills.  I pick them up, I think about when my next appointment is and I ponder, Is today the day I should take this pill?.....With a week to go until I see DrW, I better take it soon.  I am not happy about it but I'm not really happy about any of the treatments I have had to take.  It just better work!