Archive for December, 2012

When I told Tina that I was having my port removed, she said, “Oh, you’re being deported?” and we both burst into hysterical laughter. I thank God every day for my close friends and family who have kept me smiling and laughing through this miserable journey. I’m choosing to see the removal of the port today as nearing the end, at least the end of the daily part of the treatment. After January 15, other than taking tamoxifen and my PT exercises, there won’t be anything I have to do on a regular basis (unless the damned Lymphedema gets out of control, which I’m not going to let happen, or if the cancer comes back and I’m not even entertaining that thought right now). Then just a few surgeries and a few years of pills – which is nothing in comparison!

Today went well. Mom stayed over so her and Nick got up with me at the crack of dawn (actually, it may have been pre-dawn…) to take me to Dana-Farber so I could be the first person on the radiation table before moving to the OR for the port removal. Both were quick and as easy as could be. We came home and napped, and then I assured mom I was fine and she headed home. After all, I was just hanging on the couch, and am perfectly able to get up and get anything I need – I’m just not supposed to drive or do any heavy lifting.

Of course, after mom left and Nick went to work, I had a few Diet Cokes… and I realized that mom wasn’t just here to help me do things, but to prevent me from doing things! The soda made me jittery and full of energy, so up I hopped, running around the apartment cleaning this, putting that away, sorting these… and then my arm (specifically the wound where the port was taken out) started to ache. Uh oh. Now I’m remembering how they warned me not to do things so I don’t pull the stitches. Ugh. Sorry…

So to get a little more of the energy out without hurting myself more, I sat down to write this. Luckily, Tara is on her way here and we’re going to see a movie. I don’t think I can do much damage there…

Read Full Post »

Merry Christmas, everyone. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you, my fabulous friends and family – definitely the best present anyone could wish for. Thank you all for your love, support, prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts, etc, etc! Today I’d like to share a special story from a guest blogger, Cameron Von St. James of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Not only is it inspiring for all facing not so great diagnosis’, but is a great example of the incredible blessing of supportive family and friends…

The holiday season of 2005 was to be the best one yet. My wife and I had a three and a half month old daughter, Lily, and we were so excited to plan new traditions for our family our first year as parents. We were thrilled to celebrate our first Christmas as parents with our beautiful little girl. Heather and I talked about all the things we wanted to do with Lily for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, all of that happiness and joy was taken from us three days before Thanksgiving, when my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. I knew enough about this type of cancer to know that our future was not very certain anymore.

I was angry, scared and expecting the worst. I was terrified of losing my wife to cancer and being a widower with a baby. I hoped for the best, but I could not help but think that our future no longer looked as bright as it had in the days before Heather’s diagnosis. Our holiday that year was not a celebration as planned. My wife’s family flew in to visit with us during the holidays, before we had to head to Boston for Heather’s surgery. I dreaded the conversation I knew we would have, and it didn’t disappoint; it was one of the hardest moments of my life.

I spent my holidays sitting around a table listening to my wife and family members discuss our finances, our assets, and our debts. We both worked before Heather was diagnosed, but now with all the travel arrangements and medical bills, we were barely keeping our heads above water. I listened as my family discussed which of our assets we could liquidate for cash and which of our debts my in-laws could help us pay while Heather fought cancer. I was horrified and helpless. My holidays were completely ruined. It took me a very long time before I could see how mistaken I was that day.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was not the terrible conversation I thought it was. My pride got in the way of me realizing that this conversation was not one to highlight my shortcomings, but to show me how much love we really are blessed to have. Our family dropped everything in their own lives to help us in our time of need, were willing to make incredible sacrifices so that we could stay afloat and give Heather the care she needed. This year, I am choosing to be thankful during the holidays for such a wonderful family who is willing to help us so selflessly, and for more time with my beautiful daughter and wife to make more memories and to be a real family.

This year will be our 7th Christmas together since Heather was diagnosed, and despite the typically poor prognosis for mesothelioma, all signs indicate that we will have many more as a family. Heather has beaten the odds, and I hope that our story can be a source of hope and comfort to all those currently fighting cancer this holiday season.

Read Full Post »

The big L – that could be so many things, I’m not even going to venture a guess as to what you’re thinking! In my world right now it stands for lymphedema. Did you guess it? It’s not exactly a roll-off-your-tongue every day word, and I personally wish I didn’t know what it meant. But when I realized last night that the phlebitis had traveled into my hand and I held my two arms together, I had the feeling this might be happening. Then at work today my right arm was considerably more swollen than my left, and was confirmed by several of my colleagues. Off to Dana-Farber I went (hey, I had to be there for radiation anyway, so why not?) and it was confirmed: yup, lucky me, I can add lymphedema to the list!

It is early, so hopefully it will be contained. Without going into a ton of detail, I need to:

  • Wear my compression sleeve and glove during waking hours. Good thing I got it for the plane! Guess it’s not just for travel any more…
  • Keep doing the lymphatic massage that I learned last week at PT, as well as the exercises. Of course, this would be easier with a partner, but since I’m not with someone right now, it’s all me!
  • Ibuprofen – thank goodness I’m done with chemo and can have it again!
  • Warm compress

None of this is convenient or fun – especially this time of year when things are crazy enough. But it is what it is and I will deal with it and hopefully prevent it from getting worse. That’s kind of the name of the game right now – just deal with it. The daily trips to Dana-Farber for radiation – just deal with it. Taking the Tamoxifen (which I started Saturday) – just deal with it. The hot flashes – just deal with it. At least my hair is starting to grow back…

Oh! Speaking of hair, I got the sweetest compliment at work the other day: this older gentleman, who I have seen around but don’t really know, came up to me in the cafeteria and said, “I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but I have to tell you. I’ve always thought you were an attractive woman, but now that you’re bald, it’s obvious that it’s not hair that makes you attractive.” It was so nice of him, I really appreciated hearing that, especially so randomly.

Now speaking of random (or not so random) acts of kindness: I know I said I was done soliciting donations for Dana-Farber, but this is too good not to share. If you haven’t finished your shopping, consider giving the gift of a donation in someone’s honor. Now until December 31 you can use this special link www.dana-farber.org/yearend and your gift will be doubled! It only works through this link, and only until the end of the year, so don’t wait! And I guarantee anyone you give this gift to will truly appreciate it… I know all of us who frequent Dana-Farber thank you!!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »