Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lights for ourselves

I had a series of excellent doctor appointments in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Dr. Oncologist said that everything looks and sounds good.  She is sending me to get an echo cardiogram of my heart, just to see how it's doing.  I haven't had one since June 2011, so it's time to give my heart a full check-up and see how it has recovered from chemotherapy and radiation.  That is scheduled for December 28.  I still have to see Dr. O every three months, probably for the next year.  But that's okay.  I enjoy catching up with her.

My appointment with Dr. Surgical Oncologist was also excellent.  My mammogram showed no change from the previous mammogram, meaning that the area of abnormality is almost certainly scar tissue and is remaining stable.  Also, my mastectomy site has healed very well and remains recurrence-free.  Dr. S.O. has loosened my leash, saying she doesn't need to see me or have me get a mammogram of me for a whole year!  Huzzah!

With both of these great appointments behind me, I was poised to have the greatest Thanksgiving ever.  And  I did.  I spent tons of time with my wonderful family, including an extended family sleepover at my dad's place.  This might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but I assure you, it was.  I have some FUN people in my family, and mixing fun people with Catch Phrase, Just Dance 4 on the Wii, and a hot tub yields a very good time.  

My little family then continued our tradition of getting a Christmas tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Below is our tradition in photos.        

It was nearly dark at 4:30 when we struck out to find the perfect tree.

Our journey led us, as usual, to our neighborhood grocery store, Fareway.  "This is the one, dad."

We waited patiently for Ian to strap the tree in the wagon. 

Everyone took a turn pulling the tree home.  

We put the tree in a new spot this year in our den/toy room.  Ian put the lights on it and us girls took charge of hanging ornaments.  

This is the look on the girls' faces when Ian first plugged in the finished tree.  Azalea's face:  pure joy.  Eleanor's face: what's going on?  Behind us note that we also decorated the sh!t out of our dining room.  All illumination in the photo is coming from Christmas lights.  

This is the view of our dining room plus den/toy room from outside.   You can see the tree in the back.  Also note that we failed to remove our Halloween decorations before applying the Christmas decorations.  That is a witch on a broom flying on the picture window.  

Our Christmas tree 2012, complete with the first present underneath.
We decided to put up more lights inside our house than outside because, well, we wanted to enjoy them ourselves.  We have eaten dinner by Christmas light almost every night since we put them up.  It's quite lovely.  I recommend putting up up some lights for yourself this year.  You deserve it.    

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm a flattie, and proud of it

I have previously written about my choice not to reconstruct after my mastectomy.  I continue to be interested in this choice, and my interest is rooted in the fact that there must be hoards of other women out there who choose not to reconstruct.  They seem to be hard to find and I rarely encounter them in person, but now some have been found electronically thanks to some recent online publications!  

My friend S. and I have continued to research the variables that lead to and outcomes of the choice to be flat-chested after a mastectomy.  Recently she interviewed me for articles on the websites Flyover Feminism    and to align with IBC awareness week.  Great job, S., and thank you for your efforts to raise the awareness of this important issue!  

One of the articles received a comment from Melly with a link to another article.  It's a great article.  But even greater are the comments.  Check out all of the positive feedback from other women who have chosen not to reconstruct.  Of particular interest are the occasional insights into spousal support.  Considering that women often feel pressured to reconstruct in order to remain attractive to their spouse, I think that some of the feedback here is particularly informative.  

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Calm and smiling

I had a great day today.  I established a new collaboration that I hope will yield very interesting results.  I taught a student a new protocol.  I reviewed a manuscript that was actually quite good.  I attended a cartwheel recital right here in my own living room.  I had a good laugh while winning (and losing) at Twister with some young people who might not always know their left and right, but yes they can stretch all the way from red to green.

What made today truly remarkable was the absence of something.  Based on the schedule I have maintained for the past two years, today should have been PET scan day.  I should have fasted for 4 hours, rested for 1 hour while radioactive glucose did some reconnaissance in my body, and held my arms above my head in the cylindrical scanner.  However, since my past two scans have yielded no signs of cancer, my oncologist has released me from prophylactic PET scans.  !  !  !

The best part of PET scan freedom is PET scan RESULTS freedom.  Ordinarily I would be too nervous to sleep on the night before PET scan results.  But tonight I feel calm, relaxed, healthy, and normal.

This reminds me to say that I am continuing to gain control of the anxiety that has been plaguing my heart since my last PET scan in August.  I don't think I've experienced a heart flutter since before my birthday three weeks ago.  A few things to attribute this success to:  huzzah for breathing, yoga, and knitting!  And no, I don't have to live every day like it is my last!  (Whoever came up with that saying clearly didn't have a life-threatening illness.  Seriously.  Talk about piling on the anxiety in a situation that truly doesn't need it!)      

I do indeed  have an appointment with Dr. Oncologist tomorrow to check on my blood (white blood cell counts, magnesium, etc.).  I will continue to see her every three months, but I'll report back if tomorrow my leash gets loosened.  My understanding is that as a person who had IBC I will remain on high alert until 2 years after my last treatment, and my last treatment was a year ago (November 8th or so).   FYI I  have a mammogram and surgical follow-up with Dr. Surgical Oncologist on Tuesday.  I love my visits to Dr. Surgical Oncologist because I get a day to myself in the car and I take myself out to lunch.  Fun times!

Speaking of my last treatment, the clock to calculate cancer survivorship starts 1 year after the patient's last treatment.  I just passed the one year mark cancer-free!  Happy one year survivorversary to me!!!   

I'm grateful for the good times.  So good.