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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Prepping For C Day

And eye-opening it was! Other than my head not spinning a full 360 degrees Linda Blair style, I can expect some pretty dastardly side effects from the chemo I will be taking. By the time the nurse got to the part about my nails possibly starting to thicken, blacken and fall off I was in stitches laughing. "Where do you people get this stuff?" I asked. I mean, what else could there possibly be left out that WON'T be a side effect to all of this?

Well, to HELL with the old mantra of acceptance and welcoming. My new one will be THIS IS ALL TEMPORARY. Someday it will be a distant bad memory that I can turn off at the whim of my short attention span. "Look- a dead bird flying!" Really? Where? As easy as that.

Talking with the Naturopath was interesting as I was bogged down with pages of puzzling notes from books and the Internet on what to buy and what would or would not interact with different drugs. I was so confused. Knowing my drug protocol, DR. N (after getting my Visa number) worked out a schedule of natural remedies that will help protect some vital organs, reduce the long-term ill effects and aid the chemo to do it's search and destruction of the cancer. Sounds good to me! Those remedies include natural fish oils (anchovy and sardine), Vitamin B complex, L-Glutamine, CoQ10 and astragulus (I have NO idea). Then there's the 5000UI of Vitamin D, the multi-vites three times a day, the multiple anti-nauseants and the 8 large glasses of water. I'll need that much to wash down all of these capsules. I agreed with the need for a low glycemic diet. Sugar IS the enemy. But the Dr. meant ALL sugar, excepting Stivia, sugar alcohols and Sucralose. But I have a DQ gift certificate still? Okay, okay, I get it, sugar feeds the cancer cells. But wait. The chemo is going to wipe out any new cancer cells and so until Wednesday comes, I am on a new Debi Prescribed diet. Someone pass me a corkscrew and the sugar bowl!
No complaints. It's all part of the regime. My nurse tells me I will be given a calming little pill called Adivan (yes, we're old friends. The dentist makes me take one before any drilling so that I won't bite anymore) upon arrival. I think I might need to take it before I sit in THAT chair. For some reason I have parallelled it to an Electric Chair, which, if the chemo skips or blows out a vein, it might very well become.
BUT, never mind all THAT! WHAT the heck am I going to wear? Too casual is just not me especially for such an important occasion. I was thinking my 50th birthday tiara to celebrate the fact I still have hair to wear it on, together with an evening gown, but that might be overkill. Not polyester in case I get a chill, but then wait. I might get hot flashes they said, so poly would be nice. NOTE: wear the good bra in case I get WAY too hot, too fast. And Big Girl panties of course. Don't forget them!
Maybe the chance to try topless table dancing, that I have been kidding about since acquiring all these long pink surgical lines, is NOT over. I'll have to ask the nurse if they have a sturdy enough table.
Countdown to C Day...Three. Really, I mean it. Where is the corkscrew?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chemo Me Tickled

October 22: I had some pretty impressive support. My husband Barry, my regular Dr. V as well as Dr. B from the Smithers Cancer Unit sat with me in front of a television set listening to what the Kelowna Oncologist had to say. She began by recounting the events up to date before asking me multiple health history questions, including cancer in the family, childbirth info and how much DID I smoke way back when? She then said because breast cancer does not run in my family, because it was a micro metastasis as in below the standard size to be listed as an N2 (a cancerous lymph node and an automatic sentence to chemo) that it would be up to me to choose whether or not to go forward with the chemo, or head straight to Kelowna for the radiation therapy.
It was "the Pass" I had prayed for. The sliver of hope of not having to subject my body to such vile toxins- of getting sick almost to death, possibly destroying bone marrow, of losing my hair (ALL my body hair...OMG!), getting infections.
So...why wasn't I dancing the touchdown Rhomba? It's because even after I said, no, I don't want to hear them, my team asked to hear the numbers. The percentages we were dealing with. And the Chemo upped my survival rate and my chance of avoiding a recurrence. It would also give me more piece of mind knowing I had done everything possible to stomp out any lingering wisp of cancer cells even toying with the idea of starting any more trouble.
When I still hesitated, Dr. B asked Barry. Was I the type to to live easily with taking chances or would I forever worry I had made the right choice to skip out of the harder path. He didn't even pause. Worry wart! Yes, I had to agree for a change. I would be an absolute rubber room candidate if I didn't allow my brain to talk me into doing this to myself.
Before the conference ended, I made the decision. A winter without hair it would be. All I want now for Christmas are some bangs. And a Porsche. And a grandchild ( a quiet one-ha!). (Might as well have a few pipe dreams if you're going to bother with any!)

My next appointment is Wednesday for blood work and an eye-opening discussion with the Oncology nurse of exactly what will be happening, right down to what to and not to eat on the Day of a treatment. That's four treatments spread three weeks apart. Twelve weeks, three months. I can do this! Easy. I've gone without chocolate that long. Probably tougher, but I did it.

I have the name of a Naturalist in Victoria who will advise me on the right vitamins and concoctions to fortify my body with. The armour to protect my good things while aiding the chemicals to stomp out and destroy the bad things. The helmet and army boots to kick some serious cancer butt! It's going to be a massacre, but I'm going to come out of this on top. Of that, I am pretty certain. Mostly.Some.

Let's DO IT!

I do know it's important to be mentally prepared as well. I need to convince myself to overcome the fear of all the horrible things I have seen in movies and read in books about what chemo used to be like. Today, I remind myself, there are amazing anti-nauseants and things to control other things like diarrhea and mouth sores. I have to be okay with whatever comes my way, to welcome them because they are necessary for the outcome to be what we want. So I have been working on a new mantra.

I asked for these drugs because I believe in them.

Okay, so I am not quite there yet. Repeating this still makes my eyes get all blurry. Maybe if I eat chocolate while I say it. Now we're talking. This is going to a piece of cake, chocolate cake to be precise!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Next Treatment Please!

Some days it's like being inside a slowly digesting boa constrictor- this cancer adventure I'm starring in. First the delay of the MRI results, then the long wait to get in for a biopsy, then the Big C verdict, surgery, then a second surgery and all the healing in between. But today we finally got a gift back. A possible Karmatic reward for our patience? The Kelowna Oncology dept has given the thumbs up for a video consult (after saying it could not be done) which saves us a 22 hour return drive to talk with a cancer specialist! If I'm sentenced to chemo, I can have it here in Smithers before making our way to Kelowna for the radiation. If there's no chemo, I have an appointment already booked on November 3rd in Kelowna with the radiologist, so there won't be much of a wait to get that going either. What a relief!
But by far, the best news is that somewhere in the shuffle, the Oncology consult date changed from Nov. 2 to October 22!Someone managed to save me eleven days of restless anxiety and downright childish moping. We are soon going to know what comes next, how long I will be doing it for and what will happen when I'm doing it. I will be able to map and plan some things for a change. Sort of like normal people do, once again.
The only thing better than this is winning money-I swear. It's that good.
My life has SO changed!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Four Weeks Post Surgery

Yes, it's been 4 weeks today, October 12, 2010 since going under the knife for the second time. My arm is working fairly well but I still suffer occasional sharp pains through the right breast and sleeping is one giant toss-and-turn affair trying to find something comfortable. The liquid, squishing sound has ended and it feels more solid although I still find it uncomfortable to bounce, skip or run, even if clinching it vice-wise in a hand grip
It's getting harder to use the couch excuse. Today, after a day up and running, I was flattened and wincing by four o'clock. Still need to use my good arm for the bulk of what I do. At this stage I consider myself ambidextrous for everything except writing. Still no weight lifting on the right side. It tires and begins to hurt quickly. I do my physio exercises that were listed in the book given to me before the first surgery. But I have resumed a lot of the household chores. I can fold the towels again, wash dishes, make a meal, I even washed the floor using my new Norwex one-handed mop. Pretty easy and I'm assured it leaves the floors 99.9% germ free just using water.
I did get dates to "see" the oncologist Nov. 2 and the radiologist Nov 3. Both these people are in Kelowna and so we are hoping the appointments are for video conferencing through the Smithers hospital. No sense travelling 1200 kms twice as I'll eventually have to get there to take the radiation. It's frustrating as my 6 week post surgery date ends October 26, so again, an extra week of sitting and waiting. Then a consult, then another week to wait for it all to be set up. I should have taken up knitting. I could have opened a store by now to sell everything I had time to make the past 5 months.
I guess I am going to have to try forcing myself back into the writing saddle. This being in limbo is taking far too long and I wanted to have these books into the hands of an agent or publisher while I was still 50. That only gives me two and a half months left. Although I'm now getting out of the house much more often which means less time to work on anything. But hey, let's heap the pressure on. That's what I need at the moment. More stress. Which means more chocolate, of course.
It's not all bad!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today is Tuesday, October 5 2010. Exactly three weeks since surgery and the biggest news in my life this week was being able to get a shirt up and over my head! There was a little "owwww" involved, more like a mouse squeak than an actual yelp. The best part is I can now wear everything in my closet again. It was getting pretty monotonous there for awhile having to stick to button and zipper fronts.
The underarm is still very numb although I can feel it better now. I still use the electric razor because , like a fat lip at the dentist's, I can't feel where the skin begins and ends.
The scars are healing nicely, two are still not completely scab free yet. I cover them all with a 3M paper tape to keep them from stretching, which I have read is a problem with the weight of the breast constantly pulling at the scar tissue. The tape holds both sides securely together while it's repairing. I also read not to use vitamin E which will perpetuate the stretching. There is just so much confusing info out there that you have to sort through and decide for yourself what's best for you.
A friend sent more info on cancer and dietary issues. Sugar ranked number one as a bad guy. I am still on the sweet street, with the non-alcoholic wine, the daily overdose of "cheer up chocolate," the baking for visitors, for us, and the chai tea latte's I've fallen for. I'm going to have to tighten that up a lot more.
Our Internet continues to be up and down more than a toilet seat, so I have to end this . My husband is breathing over my shoulder wanting to get to his own computer issues for the day.
I'm well, feeling stronger every day, but I still have to spend a few hours a day resting on the couch with the arm elevated. Or at least that's what I tell everyone. Ha