Posted by: healingseeker | November 5, 2010

I love the message in Super Chick singing “We Live”

I love the message in Super Chick singing “We Live”

Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_whi9GmAO8

Posted by: healingseeker | November 5, 2010

Seeking the best way to pray for a friend with terminal cancer

Cancer Prayer

Cancer Prayer

Introduction: You learn that someone you love is in the hospital. You are told that he or she is not going home. What is the best way to pray for someone with terminal cancer? How do you make your peace should you have to say that final good-bye?

I am seeking the best way to pray for a friend with terminal cancer.

I met this dear woman and her husband at the monthly cancer support group I attend. She was one of the ones who made me feel so welcome when I first walked through those doors in February of 2010. It was clear that she and her husband shared a very strong and supportive bond. She had such vitality, a very strong and loving spirit, and a great sense of humor.

She cheered me on as I went through chemo, a double mastectomy, and radiation. She was so happy for me when I went into remission from breast cancer. In other words, there is no more cancer in my body.

She has traveled one cancer journey and then was in remission for 40 years. Then she got another type of cancer and went in remission from that. After more than three years, that cancer re-surfaced. So once again, she started going through chemo treatments.

Suddenly, she started getting ailments that the doctors could not get a handle on or diagnose. They ran test after test after test. In a matter of weeks, she seemed to get worse. Finally, it was discovered that the cancer has spread to her liver.

Her husband came in halfway through our most recent cancer support group the first Monday of November 2010. He told us her room number. He told us more about what she was going through. He had rushed home to pick up a few more things. He asked for our prayers. Then he rushed off to be with her again.

So the question is, how do we best pray for someone with terminal cancer? It is a dilemma.

I went to visit her in the hospital two days ago and again yesterday. I will go back today. Her husband took me out into the corridor and stated that unless there was a miracle, she was not going home. The doctors were not even venturing a guess how long she has left. He stated, “She is my whole life.” He was only getting three and a half hours of sleep a night. He remains strong while sitting with her. When he gets home, he cries.  I cannot even imagine what he is going through.

The good news is that she is not in pain. She has trouble catching her breath and she coughs some. She is praying for a healing.

I had recently completed a prayer shawl and prayer square using some very soft and fluffy yarn. I asked God to place his healing energy in both. I gave her the shawl and her husband the 4 inch by 4 inch square to keep in his pocket. It made me feel a sense of relief to be able to offer some tangible form of comfort.

But still, my dilemma is, how do I best pray for someone who has touched my heart so dearly?

I finally settled on the following philosophy: I know that we are all God’s children and God loves all his beloved children equally. God loves this woman, his daughter, as much as He loves me and all his other daughters. He loves her husband, His son, as much as He loves all his other sons.

I guess we pray that if it is in the highest order of things for her to return to the home she shares with her husband, then that is what I want to see happen. If it is in the highest order of things for her to go home to live with God, then please do it in such a way that she is pain-free and having lovely quality moments with her husband and the other people she loves in the meantime.

I ask for this dear woman to be healed. I know what outcome I most want to see happen. I want her to be healthy and whole where I can see her and share a hug. God knows the actual outcome. It is truly in His hands.

Healing can come in many forms. Healing can come from a reversal of cancer where it is no longer metastasizing in the body. Healing can come in the spirit, where the person can feel a strong sense of peace and comfort that it is time to go home to God. Healing can come is so many other ways. In whatever way it is possible and in whatever way it is for her highest good, the highest good of her husband, and the highest good of all, I ask that healing come to her.

I also ask that healing comes to her husband and all the people who love her when and if we truly do have to say that final good-bye. May God comfort us and bring us a strong sense of peace.

So what about you, if you have ever had to face saying good-bye to someone you love, whether he or she be a family member or a friend, how did you pray? Plus, how did you make your peace with having to say that final good-bye? I am open to ideas.

Posted by: healingseeker | October 30, 2010

It’s Safe to Be Slender: Vitamin & Mineral Supplements

It is safe to be slender picture

As Healing Seeker affirms her declaration that it is safe to be slender, read her exploration of the health benefits of taking vitamins and minerals for weight loss and for maintaining a healthy body.

Click WEIGHTLOSS to read the entire story on Associated Content.com.

 

Posted by: healingseeker | October 30, 2010

It’s Safe to Be Slender: Flax Seed Benefits

It is safe to be slender picture

As Healing Seeker affirms her declaration that it is safe to be slender, read her exploration of the health benefits of having a daily dose of 4 tablespoons of flax seed mixed with 4 ounces of yogurt. In addition, it pleases her taste buds.

Click WEIGHTLOSS to read the entire story on Associated Content.com.

Posted by: healingseeker | October 30, 2010

Declaration: It’s Safe to Be Slender

It is safe to be slender picture

Healing Seeker is in remission from breast cancer. Read about her journey to lose 60 pounds before getting reconstruction surgery in fall of 2011. Celebrate the knowledge that we don’t need all that insulation. Instead, know that it is safe to be slender.

Click WEIGHTLOSS to read the entire story on Associated Content.com.

Posted by: healingseeker | October 27, 2010

Only 7 more radiation sessions to go

27 October 2010

Woo-hoo! I only have 7 more radiation sessions to go. They did several rounds of radiation aimed at my clavicle, left collar bone area. They completed the last of multiple radiation sessions aimed at my chest wall. The last remaining 7 sessions will be aimed at the scar tissue area.

The way this works is they drew a black magic marker circle around the scar tissue of my left breast area. The circle is about 2 inches tall and about six inches wide that include my underarm area where the ten lymph nodes were removed. I am to make certain that I re-draw this oval should the lines fade. I have already had to do this twice. That way, they know exactly where to aim the radiation.

This past Monday, (it’s Wednesday evening now), my radiation oncologist indicated he wanted me to stop putting deodorant under my left arm as it is looking irritated and kind of breaking open. I probably don’t need deodorant under that arm anyway as there does not appear to be any sweat glands remaining in that location. He asked me to purchase an over-the-counter medication called Domeboro. This is Aluminum Acetate. It is to soothe minor skin irritations such as poison ivy, athlete’s foot, insect bites, and rashes. These are my instructions to follow until I am done with radiation and/or until the irritation under my left arm heals up.

Mix 2 packets in 1 pint water.
Soak 4 x 4 gauze or clean handkerchief.
Apply to affected area for 15 minutes.
Do this 4 times a day.

Keep solution in refrigerator for 1 week.

I bought Domeboro on Monday. I have yet to use it. I guess I will make myself do this tonight. I guess one reason I am stalling is that it does not hurt – it simply looks bad.

By the way, as of a few days ago, I finally did get a side effect due to the radiation. It looks sun burnt on my left breast area and under my left arm. Once again, it does not hurt – it just looks bad.

According to my doctor’s scale, I am back to have lost only 20 pounds rather than 22 since starting this whole breast cancer journey. As I’ve mentioned before, I wish to lose an additional 60 pounds prior to reconstruction surgery so that I don’t have fake boobs being attached to fat. Now that my viral infection is finally over, I returned to the YMCA today after nearly a month’s absence.

By the way, since I plan to write pretty frequently about my weight loss efforts, I decided to start a blog totally dedicated to that topic. So if you wish to hear any details about my weight loss journey, feel free to visit my new blog called: IT’S SAFE TO BE SLENDER at http://safe-to-be-slender.blogspot.com/

A friend of mine in my cancer support group and I have been discussing the terminology of “in remission” as opposed to being cancer-free. She and I prefer being cancer-free as there is no more cancer in either of our bodies. Another woman in our group objected strongly to using that term. Apparently, all doctors object to that term as well. To me, the words “in remission” have an under-layer of a fear factor to them as there is the risk of going out of remission and once again having cancer. Those words don’t feel affirmative enough to suit my fancy; however, I will remain politically correct and state that I am “in remission.” Privately, she and I celebrate being cancer-free. What do you think about that topic?

It will be delightful when I no longer have daily doctor’s appointments. Once radiation gets finished on November 5th, I will only have to go to see my oncologist once a month to have my blood tested and to have my port flushed. That will be thrilling to no longer have daily reminders of this journey I have been traveling since just before Christmas of 2009. There will also no longer be such a need to make these posts all that frequent as taking the low-dosage chemo tablet for five years is for preventative purposes only. I would think there will not be that much to tell until it’s time to get reconstruction surgery late in the fall of 2011. Perhaps I’ll make some posts on simply celebrating life and other life-affirming topics.

I have been so grateful to all of you for being so supportive in so many ways. God is so good! Have a great rest of the week!

With love and best wishes,
Healing Seeker aka Debbie

Posted by: healingseeker | October 22, 2010

No more scarves or wig for me!

Debbie Dunn at Southerland Farms 10-9-2010 Photo taken by Mary Hayes

Debbie Dunn at Southerland Farms 10-9-2010 Photo taken by Mary Hayes

Written on 22 October 2010

As of October 14th, I declared it freedom day from all scarves and the wig. My hair is now about one-inch long. I feel that is long enough to go out in pubic uncovered. My husband feels it looks like a fashion statement rather than somebody who HAD breast cancer. Notice the use of past tense. After all, since I am in remission, than I no longer HAVE breast cancer. I HAD breast cancer. The daily radiation treatments that will continue until November 5th are preventative only. The five year low-dosage chemo tablet that I am taking is preventative as well.

I packed the scarves away in the storage room. My husband and I discussed it. I am going to give the wig back to the Reach for Recovery program. They can get it cleaned and give it to somebody else who might wish to have a wig of straight shoulder length blond hair.

This feels truly liberating to me. I had been wearing the scarf around town. I would wear the wig only when giving storytelling performances. The last time I used the wig was for my September 16th storytelling performance at Kiwanis. I’m certain it looked odd as I had gray sideburns sticking out of a blond wig. By the time I noticed this, I did not have time to color my hair. Chemo can cause your hair to grow in different colors, textures, curly as opposed to straight or the opposite, etc. Fortunately, this was my father’s Kiwanis group; therefore, most of them knew that I had been traveling that breast cancer journey. A couple of days later, I colored my hair back to its original blond state.

A couple of weekends back, I did a storytelling performance in Greeneville, TN. I wore a floppy hat to cover up the extremely short blond hair. It seemed to work. Plus, some of them knew about the breast cancer. As I packed for my storytelling trip in Franklin, TN and two shows near Glasgow, KY, I decided that wearing the floppy hat to kind of spice up the ultra short blond hair would work for those gigs as well. Other than one person, none of the rest of them knew about the breast cancer, as far as I know. I didn’t want them to feel they were going to get a substandard performance.  A photographer by the name of Mary Hayes took my picture at the October 9th show in Greeneville, TN. I am including the picture in this article so you can see how I looked.

I had to return to the doctor on October 13th because the viral infection I had was still not better. I certainly didn’t want to cough my way through a performance. The doctor gave me a steroid shot which seemed to help. This cough has been going on for more than 3 weeks. The radiation oncologist does not feel it has any connection with the radiation treatments. The cough is a lot better now. Fortunately, I did not cough even once during any of my performances.

As far as radiation, later on today, I will go for my 24th treatment out of 35. I missed the treatments on Oct. 18th and 19th due to being in Kentucky. My October 20th treatment got canceled as they had a power surge that made the machines inoperable. Yesterday, I was able to resume treatments. Since my radiation treatments are preventative only, none of this made me panic. I would not have been so calm if I had had to miss a chemo treatment. Unless they have another power surge or I get another out-of-town booking, my radiation treatments will end on November 5th. Apparently, 35 treatments is the magic number for breast cancer so that is how many I will get. Today is my last day where they will aim the radiation toward my throat area. Then I have a few more days of them additionally aiming the radiation at my chest wall. Then they will do about ten days of aiming the radiation at the scar tissue of the double mastectomy. By the way, they are only doing their treatments in my left breast area. They did not feel it is necessary to aim any radiation at my right breast area.

My energy level is good and my spirits are high. I am so grateful to God and all my supportive family and friends for the strength and power of prayer. I also am grateful to have such good doctors who I can really trust.

Have a wonderful day! Much love to you all,
Healing Seeker aka Debbie Dunn

Posted by: healingseeker | October 7, 2010

I am now in remission from breast cancer

7 October 2010

I went to my oncologist for my now monthly appointments. I was debating what phrase would be accurate to use since the chemo and double mastectomy got all the cancer out of my body. I prefer the term cancer-free; however, apparently, most oncologists will not sanction that phrase. The correct term is that I am in remission. That means there are no cancer cells in my body and all is quiet on the home front. Woo-hoo!

I have now had 17 of 35 radiation treatments that are for preventative purposes only. I have had zero side effects. Woo-hoo again! Apparently, 35 consecutive sessions is the magic number that has been proven to largely help keep cancer from returning.

I am on my second round of physical therapy. I had seven sessions the first round. I am in the process of getting my second round of eight sessions. My mobility of my left arm is improving a lot. I joined the YMCA and went religiously for a week. Then I came down with a viral infection with frequent coughing (nothing to do with the cancer). I am on my third round of antibiotics for that. I will return to the YMCA once I get a bit better.

Other than the viral infection, which is much improved, I have been doing really well. I am totally recovered from the double mastectomy. I experience zero pain except when doing some of the exercises, lifting my left arm over my head for radiation, and when I try to sleep on my left side. I am so very grateful to God for how well I have been doing throughout this whole cancer journey. I feel so very blessed.

Depending on which scale I use, I have lost 20 to 22 pounds since this whole journey began. Six of those pounds happened in the last week. I was giving radiation credit for that weight loss. They said that since the radiation is aimed at my chest, it is not likely that I should experience weight loss. No matter what the reason, I am grateful. I must admit that my appetite has decreased quite a bit in the last few months. So that would partly be the reason I’ve lost so much weight. I wish to lose 60 more pounds before reconstruction surgery gets scheduled in the fall of 2011. After all, I don’t want fake boobs attached to fat. I want them attached to the healthy and fit body that I hope to have for the rest of my life.

I don’t want to be too thin. In other words, I still want to keep my womanly curves. I just wish to be a weight that I feel would be recommended for my height. I am not going to be doing this my dieting. Instead, I am making little changes a bit at a time as a permanent lifestyle change that I can live with.

I am taking quite a few vitamins daily along with my low-dosage chemo tablet. I am enjoying using my Ninja juicer that makes fresh fruit slushies, etc. I still need to up my water intake. That is a work-in-progress. I am no longer overeating. Portion control is one of my big goals. Exercising is one of my big goals.

The vitamins I have been taking include B-12, C, D, E, Biotin for hair growth, Krill, a Multi-Vitamin, and Calcium with Vitamin D mix. Once my Krill Oil runs out, I am going to replace it with Cod Liver Oil. The new vitamins I am going to be adding this weekend are Cinnamon and 4 tbsp of Flax Seed Oil added to Activia. I am told that Flax Seed Oil is great for weight loss plus for general health.

By the way, at the Health Barn today, I learned about an herbal supplement called Graviola that is supposed to keep cancer cells from growing or re-growing. Here is the link: http://www.nutrovita.com/info/graviola.html . Since I am already taking a low-dosage chemo tablet, I don’t feel I will try this at this time. I am just mentioned it as it may be helpful to others. Check with your doctor or the American Cancer Society to see whether it is something that might be of benefit to you..

As for hair growth, my hair is not yet an inch long; however, I have started going out without the scarf in the last couple of days. I am told that it looks right in fashion. I can’t yet tell whether my natural curl is coming back or not. It’s not long enough to tell. Just today, I bought some Rosemary Oil that is also supposed to help with hair re-growth. I will start that this weekend as well.

I keep very busy with my writing and getting ready for some big storytelling performances coming up soon. That keeps me happily occupied and with little time to be thinking about things like cancer. Most of my writing is very service-oriented as it has to do with anti-bullying and conflict resolution. I think that is the big key should you have a disease such as cancer. If you keep busy doing service-oriented things and keep yourself occupied with hobbies you love and feel passionate about, it leaves you little time for worry or stress. Life is good! God is good! I am so very grateful!

Have a wonderful week! I wish you all the best! I love you all!

Healing Seeker aka Debbie

Posted by: healingseeker | September 26, 2010

Eight Radiation treatments successfully completed – 27 to go

26 September 2010

I have now completed eight of my 35 radiation treatments so far. The first official day of radiation, they removed the adhesive tape covering the magic marker pointers they had made on my chest area. That was the worst part of all. You probably recall how it feels to remove a band-aid. Multiply that times ten and you will get an idea of the pain factor. This tape was extra adhesive as they didn’t want me to shower those marks away. After that, they made six permanent tattoos on my body. They are the size of a pin head and look almost like I have blackheads or small black freckles on my upper body. These tattoos are the bull eye points where they will aim the radiation. The tattooing was not that bad. As for the radiation itself, I cannot even feel it going into my body. I have to lie on my back with my arms raised above my head in this pillow form that has been contoured with the exact placement of my head and arms. It is a little painful to have my left arm raised due to the lymph node situation. Other than that, I mostly nap my way through the ten to twenty-minute sessions feeling at ease, relaxed, and pain-free. Woo-hoo!

The doctor, nurses, and technicians are so very kind. They have a small refrigerator set up full of soft drinks, juices, and small water bottles that are free for patient use. They also have a basket of snacks. They generally get us in and out on our appointment time. They supply all the Aquaphor I need for free. I go into the bathroom and apply it after my treatment is over for the day. It is kind of thick and goopy; however, it appears to really help alleviate any burn or redness factor.

I have a correction to make on my last letter. It turns out that the five-year low-dosage chemo tablet that I am taking is actually the tiniest of the pills I am taking. The horse pill that was really hard to swallow until I got used to it was the Vitamin C tablet that I am taking.

So far, it does not appear that I will be getting any more physical therapy. That is okay since I joined the YMCA the very day I started radiation. I felt led to do that as I was leaving the radiation center. After meeting this one woman who showed me around, she and I both felt like I was meant to join on that very day. She had just discovered a lump in her breast and does not have health insurance. I was able to give her a lot of really helpful tips that I think brought her some heart’s ease. I recommended she go to the health department as they have a sliding pay scale based on your income. I have not seen her since as I think she works different hours than when I typically go. I am praying that she is okay.

I got a tour and then went through an orientation of what I call the Exercise toys. They have an inside pool that I may make use of at some point. I love that the room filled with exercise equipment is called the Wellness Center. I love that focus as that is my true purpose of being there. I wish to regain full mobility of my left arm. I wish to be fit, healthy, and whole. I also would like to lose sixty pounds slowly, safely, and permanently prior to my reconstruction surgery in November of 2011. After all, I don’t want fake boobs being attached to fat. I want them to be attached to the shape and size that my body will permanently be, if that makes sense.

My mindset is to love my body’s Rubenesque shape as it currently is. I am also loving my vision of how I feel it would be healthier to look and maintain. I am being easy about the work-out effort and having fun with it. I will be using this blog to document my work-out effort from now on as it is all part of being healthy, happy, and whole.

When I first was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. I have been really grateful that I was one of the patients that lost weight rather than gained weight due to chemo. Woo-hoo! So, now I would like to comfortably, safely, and permanently lose sixty more pounds. So far, my typical work-out includes 20 minutes miles on this exercise bike where you can set it to be like you are riding a bike up and down hills. That translates to 1.4 miles and generally 95 to 100 calories lost.  Then I get on the treadmill and walk for about 13 minutes to round out that 1.4 miles to 2 miles total. Afterward, I use 5-pound dumbbells to help stretch out the lymph node area and build arm and shoulder strength. Then I at least use all the toys that help work that same area. As time and mood allows, I also “play” on the toys that work thighs, hips, and abdomen.

I really believe the work-outs are helping me to not have any radiation side effects. It has also helped reduce the swelling of my upper left arm. Additionally, it is helping with my increased mobility.

On the negative side, I had to stop going for a few days as I came down with a viral infection. At first, I thought I might have come down with allergies for the first time ever as many people are suffering from that. The doctor I visited two days ago did not feel I have allergies. He decided it was a viral infection. He gave me a Z Pac and a pill for coughing. I hope to resume YMCA workouts in the next day or two. I am improving in many ways.

While I was there, I also got a flu shot as I have been immune compromised due to chemo, etc. That is the first time in years I have gotten that shot.

My mental framework is still really good with the exception of the couple of days that I had trouble breathing due to all the congestion. In some ways, that feels like, when it is currently happening, that it is worse than cancer. I always feel so much better when I can breathe easily.

Oh, yeah! On Saturday, Sept. 18th, I got out my hair color bottles and colored what hair I have back to blond. I was tired of sporting the salt and pepper aka gray look. Besides, when I put on my blond wig to do a storytelling performance on Sept. 16th, you could clearly see the gray sideburns which made the wig look so much more like a wig rather than real hair. The performance went great. I was self-conscious about the hair situation. So I didn’t want to have that problem when I perform at my various October gigs. Thus, I once again have blond hair. My husband thinks that due to my bone structure, that I could leave off the scarf altogether as I still look very feminine. I am still using it for now as I go back and forth between hot flashes when I take it off to a cold scalp where I put it back on. I’d like it to get a bit longer before I leave the scarf and wig behind for good. Maybe in another month or two.

By the way, focusing on my writing and storytelling really keeps my focus on life-enhancing activities rather than cancer. I am finding so many ways to enjoy and be grateful for my life.

All in all, I am happy and doing really, really well. I am so grateful that I am, as far as I know, cancer free. It feels so good that the treatments I am going through now are merely preventative. I lead such a blessed life. I am so grateful to God, for everybody’s prayers, to my wonderful support system of my husband, my family, my friends, and to so many people I have never even met who are pulling for me. Go d is so good!

Much love to you all,
Healing Seeker aka Debbie

12 September 2010

It’s been one month and one day since my breast cancer surgery of a double mastectomy plus hysterectomy. Other than a few minutes of feeling a bit nostalgic or sad when I saw a Victoria Secret commercial emphasizing breast curves which I currently lack, I have been totally at peace about having the surgery. After all, I will be having reconstruction surgery beginning around November of 2011; therefore, it is not like it is going to be forever minus breasts. Plus, losing my breasts was for a really good cause – LIFE.

I am proud that I still have had only the nine pity parties during this whole breast cancer journey that began two days before Christmas of 2009. The last pity party aka mini tantrum I had was back when I still could not taste food due to chemo side effects. Once I got back to fully tasting food, the rest of the journey has been gravy – pun intended. Smile!

We all have been amazed that I have had such a relatively easy time of it since surgery – me included. My husband was a little afraid I was going to come home from the hospital a temporary invalid. I was a bit worried about that myself. Then he would have had two very dependent women on his hands – his wife and his mother who lives permanently in a nursing home with Parkinson’s, a wheelchair, not able to take care of any of her personal needs, etc. After they gave me four pints of blood the day after surgery, I was able to come home from the hospital a day later not running a track meet, but feeling pretty decent. It wasn’t long after that that I was able to resume walking at my normal fast clip. After all, there was zero pain associated with the hysterectomy.  I think that is what shocked me the most. I’d heard so many women’s horror stories plus recall seeing my own mother back in 1979 looking like she was on death’s door due to her hysterectomy. She is still going strong, by the way. Perhaps it was because it was a vaginal hysterectomy rather than being cut open that made the difference. In the interest of TMI (too much information), it hurt a bit to urinate the first two or three times; after that, there has been no pain in the slightest.

The most unpleasant part of the whole operation was the catheter they put in me for several hours. That catheter made me feel like I was about to wet myself at every moment it was in. I was so relieved when they took it out at 6:30 in the evening after having the operation early in the morning. The second most unpleasant part was five days or so of constipation. They warned me not to strain which made the process of elimination that much harder.

I did make full use of the pain medication I was offered while still in the hospital. I was prescribed two pain pills once I checked out from the hospital. I finished up the one bottle and never did find it necessary to finish up the second bottle. There has not been real bad pain associated with the double mastectomy. The worst pain happened when I accidentally would move my left arm in the wrong way where the ten lymph nodes were removed. Then I would gasp and moan a bit for several seconds or up to a minute. After that, it would be fine. There were some times when my breast area would throb a bit; however, it was never excruciating. It was always, from the beginning, pain that I could easily handle. The other blessing was that it was never constant pain. It was just periodic pain. My biggest challenge, pain-wise, was on September 26th. My surgeon removed the tape covering my sutures. For a day or two, I had almost constant stinging pain. By the way, the sutures are the type that will dissolve on their own. That bit of documentation is my effort at full disclosure. All in all, the whole recovery experience has not been that bad. I am so very grateful that it has been so much easier than I ever would have expected.

I have been rubbing vitamin E oil into the surgical area twice a day once the bandages got removed. I feel that has really helped with the healing process. I’m told by the radiologist that once I start radiation, I should not continue using that oil as it will exacerbate the burn factor. When that day comes, they have given me a special cream to use instead called Aquaphor, Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy.

I am pleased to say that unless you scrutinize my upper half and see that I am minus breast curves, I have a twinkle in my eye, a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and I am walking around appearing like the normal me minus hair.

In addition to prayer and a positive attitude, the other really helpful feature has been physical therapy. I have had six sessions so far three times a week. I have one more session for sure with the possibility of 8 more sessions twice a week. I won’t know if that has gotten approved for another couple of days. Due to the removal of ten lymph nodes, my left arm mobility was not very good post-surgery. Physical therapy started August 30th. The therapist has given me daily exercises to do in-between session. I am thrilled to say that on the sixth session, my left arm is able to more closely reach as far as my right arm is able to do. They have a wall mini finger crawl ladder with numbers. My right arm can easily reach the number 26 which is the maximum number I can reach given that I am only 5 foot three. The first time I tried, my left arm could only reach 21 with pain. Trying to reach #22 was major pain. The second day of therapy, my left arm could reach 22 with pain and 23 with major pain. It remained that way for the next three sessions. This past Friday, I was able to reach 24 with my left arm with do-able pain. I was absolutely thrilled! Also, they have other ways of measuring the return of full mobility. My numbers are increasing in every way showing that normal mobility will not be that far away. They pack me with ice at the end of each session which really helps. The radiologist stated that I should not use heat packs or ice packs once radiation starts as that will once again exacerbate the negative side effects.

I am extremely motivated when it comes to physical therapy as I am way too young to not have full use and reach of my arms. I plan to join the YMCA either this week or next week to keep the healing going plus to work on being more fit, healthy, and whole.

As for hair re-growth, that is happening as well. Two weeks after surgery, I found out about a vitamin called Biotin. It is supposed to help with hair re-growth. Then I also went to Sally’s and bought a shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in serum kit that also is reported to accelerate hair re-growth. Although my hair is not long enough yet to go without a scarf or wig, it is definitely getting fuller and a bit longer. Once it is long enough to leave scarf and wig permanently behind, I will color my hair to its former blond state as opposed to this salt and pepper look I am currently sporting. I’m also too young, in my opinion, to be going around with gray hair.

The doctors are very pleased with my healing process. I now will only see my oncologist once a month to get my port flushed to prevent blood clots. I will only go back and see my surgeon after radiation ends. I see my OBGYN later next week. He wanted to see me five weeks after surgery had ended.

As for the low-dosage chemo tablet that I will take for five years, my oncologist had three options to choose from. He took a blood test to determine if my body was still producing hormones. The good news is that I am not. He also sent me to get a bone density scan to determine what level of osteoporosis I had. Those two factors would help him determine which pill would be the least harmful and the most helpful. It turns out that I am halfway in-between normal bone density and osteoporosis. I have a condition called Osteopenia. It is “a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. It is considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis. However, not every person diagnosed with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteopenia). The final decision was that I was to take the generic version of Arimidex. I started that pill on Sept. 10th. I will have to buy a pill splitter as it is gigantic and very challenging to swallow. Since one of the side effects of this pill could negatively impact my bone density, he wants me to take a calcium pill with vitamin D twice a day. That pill should help balance things out. I am also taking krill oil, vitamin B-12, vitamin E, vitamin C, a multi-vitamin with iron, Vitamin D, plus a stool softener.

I met my radiologist on Sept. 8th. He is very nice as is his nurses. The first session was a consultation. The second session was a scan to determine where to aim the radiation. They have marked me with a permanent marker covered with clear tape for now. I begin my first actual session of radiation on Wednesday, Sept. 15th. They will give me a permanent tattoo sometime this coming week. This will be a tiny point on my body – the bull’s-eye of where to aim the radiation. Part of the purpose of the physical therapy was so that I could lift my left arm over my head for radiation. There is still some pain involved in doing that; however, I trained myself a few years ago to relax into the pain rather than resist it. It makes it so much simpler. Radiation will be daily (Monday through Friday) for six to seven weeks.

The purpose of chemo and surgery was to remove the cancer from my body. The purpose of radiation and the 5-year chemo tablet are preventative to make certain it does not come back and to attack any possible spy cancer cells that may be still hiding out somewhere. My current prayer is that my hair grows in long and thick, I regain full mobility of both arms, and that I remain cancer free for the rest of my life. I feel confident of all three things taking place thanks to the glory and the power of God.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. I fully believe that it was the power of prayer that has helped me get through all of this in such a smooth fashion. I am so very grateful to you and to God.

Much love to you all,
Healing Seeker aka Debbie

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