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Sunday, October 31, 2010


That's how many miles I ran-walked today.

It took me nearly all afternoon, but I really only walked about 3-3.5 miles total.

The rest was my version of running.

I need a tshirt or jacket that says, "I'm not really a slow runner. I'm auditioning for Bay Watch."

I'm tired and achy right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cold Headed Woman

No, not hard headed woman nor a soft hearted man, but a cold headed woman.

Something I've noticed since the weather has started to change from summer to fall is that I hate, hate, hate cold air on my head.

That seemed logical last winter, when I had no hair. In fact, kudos to bald people everywhere who live with that day in and day out, especially here in breezy NW Ohio.

However, it still bothers me. Chills me. Cold on my head never used to bother me. I despised wearing hats and tried to avoid doing so during the winter months. Yet now, the slightest breeze upon my head sends a chill down my spine and me looking for head covering.

Theoretically, I should be noticing less cold air in my head. After all, my hair is curlier and coarser than it was before. Therefore, if my general science knowledge is accurate, it should provide more insulation than my "old" hair. Plus, it's short and I wear it curly. I'd guess it is much more like sheep wool than ever before. Or a poodle's hair. And we all know that design is ideal for its insulating factors.

Yet, why am I miserable with the slightest breeze on my head. I frequently wish for a hood when I'm teaching. Right now, I'd wear a toque sitting at my kitchen table if I weren't so lazy that going to find one would be off putting. Perhaps I'm conserving my meagre energy supplies to keep hypothermia at bay.


Regardless, I'm cold. And I don't like it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Henry's Story Told

Wednesday night, 7pm EST: please plan to watch this important half hour documentary about my friend Katie's son and his battle with drug addiction. You can watch online at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Last Herceptin

Today, 15 months to the day of my official diagnosis (that is, the day my pathology came back), I will sit for my last herceptin infusion. Hopefully, my last ever. However, upon contemplation, if I could continue herceptin in an effort to prevent recurrence, I would. If I do have a recurrence, I'll have to have herceptin for the rest of my life, or as long as my heart can tolerate it. It is highly cardio-toxic.

In fact, my last echo-cardiogram indicated a 10% decrease in heart function; however, unlike MUGA scans (which involve the injection of radioactive dyes and freak me out) the "reading" of an echo-cardiogram varies from person to person, so a 10% decrease could be due to interpretation, which is exactly what my onco chalked the decrease up to. The ejection fraction was still within normal range, regardless, and I had run 5 miles the day no one is worried about my heart.

But isn't that a mixed bag: if I have a recurrences, I'll have to have herceptin for the rest of my life, unless it causes enough heart damage that I'll have to stop it. Heart damage can kill...cancer can all the way around, I guess.

Rumor has it there is a herceptin vaccine in stage three trials right now. I'd be first in line, I think, if it were available for me.

Of course, there are "unknown long term effects" with which to be concerned. After all, I think herceptin itself has only been available like I've been using it since 2006 and only since 1998 for metastatic breast cancer...

Anyway, in a few minutes, I'll leave for my last infusion, hopefully forever.

Meanwhile, I'm just about to need to get my hair cut and styled. My wonderful sister-in-law did my first trim a few weeks ago, so that it is all the same length...about 1.5". It's much thicker than it was before. It's much, much curlier. I understand that I have what is known as a "chemo-perm". I'm trying to enjoy it, and I rather hope the curls stay. Some people find they do; others find they don't. Meanwhile, I've decided to keep my hair short. Now, I just need to find a local stylist who can make it do what I want it to do. Oh, and the appropriate "product" to make it conform to my every desire and have a texture that I approve of. Not too much to ask for. Probably impossible.

I've continued my quest for physical fitness. Some might call it an obsession. My one child certainly thinks it takes up too much of my time. Of course, being the whiniest child in the family, I take his complaints with a grain of salt. He'd never be happy. It has been a change for them working days and then taking exercise classes and/or working out in the evenings. At one point, I might have cared more than I do now. Now, whatever. In fact, now, I regret the years I spent sublimating my needs to theirs, and more so, using that as an excuse to avoid dealing with my own issues. Yes, indeed, I think this is a common problem of many women, mothers especially, especially mothers in my "circle" of dedicated breastfeeders and homeschoolers. And now, looking in from the outside, I see many women who have put themselves in the position of being regularly taken advantage of by their families because of this. And I see many women who use their husbands, children, and "busyness" as an excuse for ignoring their physical (and perhaps mental) health. But all of this is material for another entry on another day.

Back to my own quest for fitness. I ran a little over 8 miles yesterday. I didn't do it quite nonstop. Yet, when I did stop, it was to stretch and deal with tight muscles, not to rest. I understand "runners" do this all the time. I'm not racing. I'm completing. I have one more "breast cancer" hurdle to accomplish this year, and that's my reconstruction surgery on November 19th. To psych myself up for that, my plan is to run the equivalent of a half marathon the weekend prior. I can't find a race nearby, and I'll be way too busy dealing with grading, planning for being out of the classroom, and generally getting ready for surgery to travel to a sanctioned event, so my plan is to simply run 13.1 miles on either that Saturday or Sunday on my own. I feel sure I can do it.

That is all well and good. In general, I feel good. I've learned to cope with the constant fatigue, which is still lingering from radiation. Some say it never goes away. My biggest challenge, the one I find most frustrating, the one that is most fear inducing, the worst perhaps permanent side effect of all of this, though, the one thing that I'm NOT doing well dealing with, is chemo-brain. I'll write more about this later, but suffice it to say, it is real, it's not going away or improving, and it has had a HUGE negative impact on my ability to live life and to function at my job. Fortunately, it now has a more professional sounding name and has been recognized by experts. Meanwhile, I am having a hard time coming to grips with, in essence, learning to accept that I'm basically brain damaged and not nearly as smart and capable as I was one year ago.

However, now I must jump in the van, drive to Toledo, and get my last infusion. I shall then celebrate by taking Tynan out to lunch and then, if the weather holds, we are going to go on a fun bike ride in one of the metroparks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brief Update mid-October's been so long since I've written anything here. However, this is the last weekend of the semester that I won't have a stack of essays to comment on. That means I'm giving a fair warning that this weekend, I shall endeavor to do my bestest to complete and post those posts that are partially finished and to finally compose the posts that have never made it out of my head.

One physical update: I met with the lymphedema occupational therapist again last week and my left are isn no larger than it has ever been...maybe somewhat smaller. I'd been trialing not wearing my sleeve except when exercising, and it seems that, at least for now, I'm good to go. Lymphedema can show up at any time, but at least for now, I'm good. I still wear my sleeves when I exercise, as should anyone who has had lymph nodes removed, but the daily wearing is not mandatory. I'll wear them some of the time, but it's not as important as it once was, and for that I'm relieved.

Friday, October 15, 2010

So much to write about, so little time

I have so much to write about and seem to have so little time in which to do it. Must remedy that. Next week. Oh, yes, I am the Queen of Procrastinators, in case you didn't know that already about me.

Meanwhile, I think I might be suffering from post-cancer Post Traumatic Stress syndrome or something. Or, what is it people coming back from war zones talk about...reintegration issues? I'm sure it has a real name but I don't know what it is.


Meanwhile, I've been having a pretty good time doing things I enjoy...hiking, camping, kayaking, and right now, I'm heading out to a Women's Weekend in W. Virginia with a group of friends from town.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010