Thursday, June 2, 2011

My other degree is in Cancer

I'm really sorry I didn't post yesterday.  I had to work late last night.  Thank you, Hilary, for posting in the comments section the results of last Friday's skin biopsy:  eczema.  Yet another weird thing that has popped up in conjunction with my cancer treatment, but at least it's totally manageable.  I've never had eczema before, and the dermatologist said it usually occurs in the winter or with a change in detergent, for example.  I haven't changed anything and clearly it's not winter, so naturally I suspect something related to the April 4th needle-localized biopsy in that area.  Perhaps the surgical glue?  Who knows.  I got a prescription for an ointment that should calm things down.  It's a rare day that eczema is good news, but I'll take it.

When it rains, it pours, because I have another sinus infection.  No joke.  The kids had some piddly virus last week, and I of course caught it this past weekend.  It started with a sore throat, so I did a salt-water gargle Monday night to nip it in the bud.  And it was nipped!  The sore throat was gone the next day.  But things never 100% cleared up.  Gradually over the course of the week I've felt my sinuses get a bit stuffy.  That was no big deal, but when my teeth hurt upon bending over to lift someone out of the stroller tonight, my heart sank.  Achy upper teeth is the hallmark of a sinus infection.  Here's where I gave myself an honorary degree in Cancer:  I prepared and performed a sinus wash; I took one free-sample antibiotic that Dr. Ear Nose and Throat gave me last month and told me to keep; I took a claritin D; and I took an anti-fungal (prophylactically).  Boo-ya!  I'll call Dr. Oncologist in the morning to get a full course of antibiotics, and hopefully she'll give me a bye on a head CT scan.  I am indeed a professional patient.    

Did I tell you that I asked Dr. Oncologist about why I get sick every time I even look at my kids (aka I complained)?  I asked her how long it will take for my immune system to start performing as well as it used to.  I feel so much better and my hair has gotten so thick that it just seems like my immune system should be doing well, too.  Not so.  Her response:  TWO YEARS.  Yep.  And I'm only 3 months out from my last hard chemo.  I'm going to have to start a sinus infection tally (I think I'm on number 4, if not 5).

The worst part about this sinus infection is that it's physically dragging me down.  I can feel the fatigue quietly drifting in, like a fog creeping over Lake Wingra and enveloping unsuspecting picnicers.  I was doing so, so good for an entire week, and now here we go again.  I might not be able to protect my energy, but I won't let the fog get a hold of my spirit!

Speaking of preserving energy...time for bed.

Updated poke tally (I had a blood draw on Wednesday to check for tumor markers.  I'll get the results on chemo day (next Wednesday)):

port  32
right arm 12
tummy  6
left arm  6
right breast 2++
left breast  1+
superior vena cava 1
T9 vertebral body 


  1. A relative hooray for eczema! Sorry you have another crummy sinus infection. You are so amazing, it is time your immune system got the memo. Big hugs and a threatening and crotchety shake of the fist at your new ailments. Love you Heather Cakes!

  2. Heather - I'm going to recommend that you not be such a high achiever - don't feel you have to get a CA PhD - just a plain old COP (certificate of completion) will do. Then - get back to saving us all from antibiotic resistance!