Just wanted to check in and let everyone know that things are going well. I attended my first meeting for the Distinguished Women of CanCare. I met many wonderful ladies that are cancer survivors. The group is facilitated by the director of program services at CareCare. The group will meet once a month. I also have been attending the LIVESTRONG Program at the YMCA twice a week. The program is for cancer survivors and helps us regain strength through exercise.
The Komen Race For A Cure was held on Saturday, January 27th. About 5,000 people attended the event, despite the weather. It rained before and after the race. The team War on our Rack consisted of about 25 of us. I had a great time and I was very thankful that my family and friends participated. My two friends that are survivors were on the team as well. My survivor friend and I finished the race by walking the “Survivor Path” together.
My Cancerversary was on February 2nd (Ground Hog Day). It is hard to believe how much my life has changed from a year ago and all that I have been through. Looking back, I realize how lucky I am to have such an amazing support system!
I thought that I would check in with everyone since I had not written an edition for The Anchor in awhile. Things are going well and I am glad that it is a new year.
I applied for the Texas Counseling Association Educational Endowment Fund which provides professional development grants to association members whose schools were affected by Hurricane Harvey. I was one of ten recipients chosen to receive funds to rebuild my office. It was a great blessing that I received the funds considering that my professional resources were destroyed!
I also applied to be a Distinguished Women of CanCare (DWOC) and was chosen to become a member! The program offers support to women that have overcome cancer. I am looking forward to the benefits of the program and meeting other thrivers.
Texas weather can be crazy! It has been snowing and has resulted in ice around the city. The city has basically shut down. My dogs and I went outside for a quick picture. I am wearing pajamas provided by Pink it Forward. Pink it Forward puts together care packages for women battling breast cancer. The packages can remain anonymous and can be sent to that someone special that needs support. I received my pajamas a little while ago, but today was the perfect day to wear them.
Also, yesterday was a personal milestone for me, I went to work without wearing my “garment” or hat. The students were not on campus, so I thought, “why not?”. It actually felt very liberating and I received a lot of comments. I also had to present to small groups, but my lack of hair didn’t interfere with my presentations. 🙂 My hair is growing in slowly, but I am glad that it is growing back. It will take a little while, my hair has never grown fast…
I hope that everyone is doing well and having a nice holiday season. I have not written in awhile and feel out of practice. I have two weeks off of work which is great. Last week, we held a Holiday Pop-Up Shop at my campus for our students since they lost many of their toys due to Hurricane Harvey. The Holiday Pop-Up Shop was a success and will bring smiles to many students’ faces.
As for me, I have had a lot more “free” time and I am not going to MD Anderson as frequently as before. I met with my oncologist a few weeks ago and she said that I am doing well. She also prescribed Tamoxifen for me to take every day for the next 10years. The drug is an estrogen blocker. I was estrogen positive, which means that excess estrogen played a factor in my breast cancer diagnosis. The medication will block estrogen that I produce. Just like any medication, it comes with a list of side-effects. To be honest, the side-effects haven’t been bad or I guess I haven’t really noticed them. I did have a dull headache the first few weeks, but I don’t seem to have one anymore.
I received my 20th radiation treatment today. I invited friends and family to MD Anderson to celebrate the end of my treatments. I was so nice to see my support system together in one room. I rang the bell three times like you are supposed to and continued to ring it some more! We drank sparkling grape juice and ate doughnuts and kolaches. Today is National Beautiful Day and it certainly was a Beautiful Day with so much to be grateful for!
I have completed 19 rounds of radiation and have one more treatment to go! I am so excited that my treatment will soon be ending! In my opinion, radiation feels like the forgotten part of treatment since you usually hear so much more about the side effects from chemo. Do not get me wrong, chemo was difficult, but radiation is difficult also. It is a big commitment going to treatments everyday. I am fortunate that I get my treatments out of the way and complete them first thing in the morning. My skin in the radiated area is red and sore. I also have itchy red bumps on my chest. I moisturize with Aquaphor after treatment and when I go to bed.
I have completed 14 radiation sessions. I have been getting up at 4:30 every morning to receive radiation treatments at 7:00. After my radiation session is complete, I go to work. I have been tired, but it hasn’t bee too bad. I am a little pink and sore in the radiated area, but that is to be expected. My last radiation treatment will be on Monday, November 20th!
The Houston Mayor declared today Houston Astros Day because of their World Series win! The World Series win was just what the city of Houston needed! There was a large parade downtown to celebrate the Astros. I was unable to attend the parade due to my weekly doctor’s appointment with my radiation oncologist called my “weekly see” appointment and my radiation treatment. The “weekly see” appointment consists of the radiation oncologist checking my skin to see how it is handling radiation. I also received my 9th radiation treatment. I have not noticed much skin irritation, but I have continued to remain fatigued. Although I missed the parade, I was able to watch the Astros Celebration in front of City Hall on tv. 🙂
I have been busy with more doctor’s appointments the past few weeks. I received a radiation simulation a few weeks ago. The radiation technicians marked the affected area with three different color markers and put tape over the marks so that they would not wash off in the shower. My body looks like a human map. I also had my port removed on Friday, October 20th. It was a great feeling to get my port removed! I had my first “dry run” for radiation on Monday, October 23rd, they performed x-rays and put more marks on my body. I received actual radiation treatments the rest of the week and met with the radiation oncologist on Friday. The hardest thing about radiation is controlling your breathing, but once you figure that out, it isn’t too bad. I have a mold made specifically for me that isn’t very comfortable that I lay down in while receiving treatments. Six weeks of radiation treatment was recommended for me, but I am participating in a clinical trial called the Sapphire Trial and I was chosen to receive a higher dosage of radiation for four weeks instead of a lower dosage for six weeks. They are studying the effects of radiation and lymphedema. I will be followed for 10 years.
As you know I completed chemotherapy about a month ago! I am so glad to be finished with that phase of my treatment. I celebrated completing my treatment by attending a luncheon called In the Pink. The guest speaker was Amy Robach from Good Morning America. I enjoy watching her on Good Morning America on my days off of work. I was so excited about attending the event and having the opportunity to meet her. Her speech was very moving and I related to many things that she said. One of her main points was that everyone has a right to have a mammogram anytime they want and as often as they want. She reiterated throughout her speech that her mammogram saved her life. She also emphasized the importance of informing and empowering every generation about early detection, although it was not something she thought much about until she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. She signed my book and I gave her and Robin Roberts a Team Jen shirt. 🙂
Today, on Wednesday, September 27th, my day started off with a beautiful rainbow in the sky. The rainbow symbolized God’s way of celebrating that my chemotherapy treatments would soon be coming to an end. As my morning continued, my SCE family gave me a cupcake to celebrate my last chemo session.