All posts tagged: breast cancer

At home with RA March 2020

We live in Albuquerque. Sunny day. Tomato plants outgrowing their nursery. Pantry is stocked as usual and our internet is dependable. Doctor appointments are via phone. Trips to the grocery store are carefully planned. There is no bread flour or other baking supplies on the grocery shelves. Eggs can be hard to get. There is no food in Amazon’s Pantry.  We are on lockdown. Yet we still count ourselves as lucky people. We do not have the virus. No one in our family has the virus. Francis, our little cockapoo , is healthy. Our pantry shelves are stocked. Our income, at this moment, is as it should be. Our home is safe. We are lucky. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Recently I had to stop taking my RA meds, methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine as  two of my cancer docs said to stop. I had developed necrotic, infected tissue from breast cancer radiation treatment. This infection  started in October. I had a partial mastectomy in December followed by a severe cellulitis. Now after months of treatment at the …

No more methotrexate

RA Dilemma Number Five There is another dilemma to face when you have rheumatoid arthritis. I was surprised by this one. After all, I have had RA for seven years and feel I have covered a lot of ground in that time. I know infection posed  a very high risk while taking RA meds. My mind thought flu or maybe pneumonia. This one started five months ago. Suddenly and out of the blue, my right breast developed a lesion and stated to drain. I felt feverish and went to see my oncologist who sent me to the breast surgeon oncologist down the hall because she was the one who had the ultrasound machine. She came in, introduced herself and looked at my lesion. She instantly knew that it was caused by necrotic breast tissue due to radiation for breast cancer. The radiated tissue gradually degenerates, expands until it pushes through the delicate breast skin and drains. It cultured positive and I was sent to the wound clinic. Eventually, it was determined that the only solution …

Seven year anniversary and infection

It was seven years ago this month. I was acutely ill with my first encounter of rheumatoid arthritis. My illness had not been given a name yet. A week before that I had seen the ER doc who started me on prednisone and who was  sending me to the rheumatologist that I would see in about another week. I had very little sleep. A few hours a night at most. I was in excruciating pain. Life was not good. I can look back with a sense of relief. I no longer have the kind of pain that made me think I had broken glass shards in my joints. It took several years after my diagnosis for my RA to settle down. I never went into remission. My inflammation has always simmered. Methotrexate was my base. I finally settled into 25 mg subq once a week. It helped. After a few years my pain was never quite the same as it was originally. My feet became central to my discomfort. Custom orthotics and Dr Comfort shoes …

A celebration of Recovery 10,000Waves

About as high as you can go up into the mountains in Santa Fe on the road to the Ski Basin is tucked a high-class Japanese Spa specializing in bodywork and skin care. Ten Thousand Waves.  My destination. Just what I need. I desperately need. My treatment choice is NOSE TO TOES. A Mother’s Day gift certificate from Chris and Katie. I live in Albuquerque and this would be my first road trip in three years. I gassed my Tin Lizzy, my 5-year-old Mini Cooper Clubman. Pepper white. Turbo. Added bottled water, spa directions.  Put on my winter jacket. Ready to go. Finally!  This is November. I headed toward I-25. Sunny day. Cool. I am on the road.  I am also on the recovering end of a devastating year. The year was 2013. Almost three years ago. I had been diagnosed with a severe rheumatoid arthritis followed by two different diagnoses of cancer. Surgery. Radiation for each. Pills forever. No relief for the RA until this year with the start of Orencia. It is a …

Test Week

Since my Rheumatoid Arthritis and my two cancers were diagnosed in the same year, it is logical that  milestones occur the same way.  In one week I had  tests for my two cancers. On Monday I had a Thyrogen shot in the butt. The medication  acts like TSH, a hormone  that  normally stimulates your thyroid. ( $1400 each without insurance, $135 each with). Tuesday I repeated Monday with another shot. On Wednesday I went to nuclear med for a radioactive pill.  I am not radioactive. I feel like I am. I am also given two containers of MOM. The tech said it was a mild laxative. One tonight. One Thursday night. it wasn’t mild. I was also instructed to eat lightly. On Thursday I went to Radiology Associates of NM for a diagnostic mammogram. I do love this place. Friendly people. Coffee. Special cute patient gowns.  I felt that I would be fine, but I had the vivid memories of when I was not. So I still worried. Lucky me!  There was no sign of cancer. A …

Susan

I said goodby to Susan today.  She has  had a very interesting time of it.  Her life was full.  No one can ask for more.  I knew her for a brief period.  I was glad of it.  It was an important period in her life as well as in mine. I met her at a cancer support group.  She was angry as she had recently learned of a serious metastasis.  I had had a whirlwind bout  with a diagnosis of RA and sequentially two cancers.  I was trying to process as well as she. I saw her as the chemo failed and as she was denied her favorites of swimming and yoga.  I saw her as the last chemo drug failed.  She lost her anger and frustration.  She seemed to mellow.  Then she moved on.  She became engaged in planning her exit. The last day in our breast cancer group, we made bracelets.  She gave me her’s.  She used red beads as I was wearing red that day.  We had our final hug. She has …

evolution of a cancer mind

On Thursday I go to the Caring Hearts Cancer Support Group. This is at the Presbyterian Cancer Center in Albuquerque. It runs in blocks of six weeks. Lunch is served and discussion is 1.5 hours. Since I have been going, the hospital chaplain has been the facilitator. She is excellent. I have benefited immeasurably from my visits. The discussion turned to how we felt about our diagnosis. I never had the moment. I seemed to slide from one revelation to the next. I was not angry. I was too confused to be scared. I was always recovering from a treatment. I was exhausted and fatigued. My concern was having to spend my life in that state.  I am inclined to believe what people tell me and they did say fine fine fine. First  it was the severe rheumatoid arthritis (seven months to become manageable). Next was thyroid cancer. Not bad you will do fine. Next it was breast cancer(small but invasive) You will be fine. Next was more tests. More cancer. We need to move …

Radiation done for BC and now on to RAI

I did it. My radiation was done at MD Anderson, a satellite at Presbyterian here in Albuquerque. I give them 5 stars. Thorough, expert and thoughtful. I had the three week plan which is double the dose of the six week plan. Fifteen treatments and then five more as a burst. First you go in for a simulation where they determine the coordinates for the beam. They do a CT scan and they make a mold so your arm and body stay in the same exact place each time. My routine was to enjoy my mini road trip to the East side. Good music and turbo and stick. Showed my cancer card when I arrived. Made a Kurig coffee. Checked on the gold fish(no longer in residence). Changed into a gown. Visited with my fellow cancer patients. Greeted  my favorite cancer machine techs. Lay  on the table, bare the boob(by this stage this is no problem), arm in mold. Position checked. Everyone leaves except me and the machine(friendly for a machine). I got two zaps. …

I am a marked woman

Radiation treatment follows certain protocols. My treatment is at the MD Anderson satellite here in Albuquerque. After meeting with the radiation oncologist, Dr. G, I have my simulation appointment. This includes a CT scan, painting on the bull’s eyes with magic marker and tape, measuring for an arm mold for placement. My breast is bare to three people. Since it has already had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a stereotactic core biopsy, wire placement and surgery, it is beginning to feel like community property and is no longer shy. Now it has war paint so is feeling pretty bold. Next the experts will do their calculations, the mold will be made and I will be ready to go with the three week plan plus a extra week to zap the surgical site. This means treatments five days a week and with the extra week, it will be four weeks or twenty treatments. My choices were the standard six week plan, the three week plan at double dose or the one week plan that includes inserting a …