February 19, 2003
I was reviewing my blog and realized that it had been a while since I have posted an update on me, not just the medical stuff, but how I am doing, so that is what I'm going to do with this post...
Physically I am doing a little better. I still hurt, but not as bad. I saw a physical therapist last week and she explained to me that because of the surgery, that there is some scar tissue that has (severely) decreased my range of motion. I could lift my arm up 92 degrees, and that was it. I was given a few exercises that I perform religiously every night and morning so my arm can return to its former glory. My physical therapist, Kelly, told me that she cannot promise me pain free but can reduce my pain drastically. I do my exercises and my arm is getting better. I returned to work on Monday and am so glad. I hate waking up 30 minutes before I used to to exercises, but I love that I get to go to work and feel productive. It took me a few days to catch back up, but by Friday (tomorrow) I will be caught up and ready to begin the new week on Monday.
Emotionally I have my good days and some bad moments. I wouldn't call them bad days, just moments. I might be at work and just feel exhausted, maybe my arm has started to tingle everywhere (not in a good way) and I just want to quit, go home, get under my covers and hide. Then I think, let me just get through today and tomorrow will be better (baby steps Laurie Jo, baby steps).
I have received many cards and letters from friends that I had made all around the world. Janet-san sends me cards about once a week. I get emails from many friends just checking up on me. I even received an email from a colleague and friend of mine from Japan. His mother had lung cancer and she gave me her words of wisdom (thank you for that). It makes me feel so good to know that everyone cares so much, that I have touched everyone's life in a way that they feel so close to me (and I to them). My name has been added to many prayer circles in many different religions and I will take all the prayers I can get. I believe that it is because of those thoughts and prayers that help give the strength when I completely feel done, to take one more step and to realize that each step, no matter how small, is a baby step forward a baby step towards remission.
Remission, hmmm, haven't typed that before. Remission... I don't know if I like that word or not. A part of me knows it means that at least for the time being my cancer is healed or at bay, but I don't like the fact that that word will now be a part of my vocabulary.
Remission.... lymphadema.... cancer..... metastatic.... high risk....
All these words that will now have to be a part of my vocabulary. The last one, high risk, yeah that one really pisses me off. Not only will it be a part of my vocabulary, but because of me, it will have to be a part of my sister's and my little girl's vocabulary too for the rest of their lives.
I went wig shopping yesterday (I will post pictures for your enjoyment later), I invited my best friend to come with me, I wanted it to be a fun and exciting outing. It was nice, but every time I put on a wig, I felt like it was screaming CANCER!!!! Dani kept telling me that they looked real. But to me nothing looked real, they sure as heck didn't feel natural, the wigs were way to poufy, to thick. They felt scratchy and hot, and I felt claustrophobic wearing them. Picking a look that you will have to live with for the next year is tough. The same color, the same length, the same style for an entire year, that is of course unless you purchase another $200 - 300 wig (out of pocket, my insurance will only partially cover 1 in my lifetime) which I won't. Don't get me wrong, we did find a few that I could live with, and a few I just thought were fun to put on. The store didn't have any hot-pink wigs (my happy color), so I will have to choose from the "normal" colors. I picked two out and will bring my mom when she comes out next Wednesday to help me choose.
I am starting chemo this Thursday (one week away). I really haven't decided how I feel about that. I am scared and curious at the same time. I don't know if I should plan to be sick (plan for the worse) and be pleasantly surprised if I don't get sick, or if I should be optimistic and get the carpet pulled out from under me when I start puking all day and night. As I said, I am looking for wigs, scarves, hats and turbans all ready. I have been told to expect to loose my hair between 7-14 days after my first session. Knowing my luck I will be sitting in the chair and as soon as the chemo hits my system my hair follicles all over my body will shriek, "What the HELL is that!!" and all my hair will fall off right there in the chair! Hmmm, I wonder if that has ever happened?
Okay, so it sounds like I have a lot of bad moments... I really don't. For the most part I am getting by a little better everyday. I can now partially shave under my arm, put on my bra, drive and get dressed by myself. Tonight I was able to give Aubrey a bath by myself.
Our family mantra has become "Baby Steps." So every day when I have seen some progress but still hurt, I remind myself, "Baby Steps Laurie Jo, Baby Steps".