Wednesday, July 29, 2009


We are having a heatwave in Seattle. It never gets above about 80 degrees here but for the past several days we have been in the high 90's, even hitting 100. We just aren't used to it here so we all complain that it is too hot and that it doesn't cool down at night. Our animals are listless and no one will even consider cooking. The plants are all drooping and the grass is turning brown.

All that being said, this summer has been fantastic. I can't help but comare it to last summer. I did my first chemo on July 9 and continued to do it every three weeks until September. I don't think it was this hot last summer, but I really don't remember because I spent a good majority of the summer sleeping on the couch or in bed. I also spent most of the summer wishing I could do more with my family. It's not that they weren't around-they were and they were very supportive, but all plans had to go through the chemo filter; was it a chemo week? Was I going to feel good enough to do anything? I was also working full time with intermittent leaves of absence for each round of chemo. Last summer, I just wanted my life back.

Yesterday was the perfect definition of having my life back. It was so hot in the house that by 10:00am we were all sweating. The girls and I decided to pack a cooler and head to the lake. Our neighborhood sits on this lake and we have a private park and beach access so there is no need to fight a crowd. We packed a lunch, took a big air mattress and some sunscreen and headed out to float. We played on the beach for awhile with my sister and her 3 daughters, then lathered ourselves in sunscreen and jumped on the air mattress. We floated the lake for several hours, jumping in occasionally to cool off.

When Larry came home, he joined us at the lake. We had a chance to catch up with some neighbors who were also there and to cool off. We came home and barbecued some burgers and sat outside to eat. It was too hot to go back in the house so we stayed outside playing cards with the girls until we could no longer see the cards. I love my life-heatwave or no heatwave, and I am extremely grateful to have it back.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Raising the Roof and Raising Funds

Last night our 3 day team had a fundraising event. There were survivor type games, a silent auction, a casino, horseshoe tournament and raffles. This was no quiet, meek crowd-this party was hopping all day and night! The party was at our team captain's house and while there was plenty of drinking, horseplay and general rowdiness, none of us forgot for one second why we were there. We were there to raise money to fight breast cancer.

Fundraising comes in all shapes and colors. Some people send personalized letters, some do bake sales and car washes and some throw a party. We threw a party and it was a heck of a good one. Our little party out in the middle of nowhere raised over$15,000.00! As a team we are now at a little over $112,000.00 with 52 members going strong.

With dedication and support like what I witnessed last night, breast cancer doesn't stand a chance. It is going to have a brief, miserable life.

Thank you to everyone who donated or contributed in any way to last night's fundraiser. I can't wait until the day when we throw a party not to raise money but to celebrate the demise of breast cancer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Good Hands

Albert B. Einstein Jr

The original Einstein

Today I went in for a 3 month checkup with my oncologist. Though I have always been happy with the care that I have received at Swedish Hospital, I really did not want to be there today. I just didn't. I am enjoying being part of the land of the healthy. I didn't want to be sitting there with people who are bald and sick and waiting to go through chemo. That isn't where my head is at these days. I didn't want to have my blood drawn or get on a scale, I didn't want to be poked and prodded and I wasn't excited about having my second Zometa infusion. I wanted to be at home enjoying the warm weather.

My oncologist is not only a fabulous doctor (one of the top 3 in Seattle) she is also very similar to me. She is my age, she has two children and she is a breast cancer survivor. I was lamenting to her about not wanting to come in today. She laughed and said that she has learned to not take it personally that people really don't look forward to seeing her. She also said that in her own cancer journey, she really doesn't want to go see her oncologist either.

The appointment went well and she doesn't want to see me for another 3 months. The zometa infusion was also uneventful. I can expect to not feel well tomorrow, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is not the case.

I had to have my doctor sign a medical waiver for me to be able to walk in this year's 3 day walk. Per the 3 day guidelines it has to be on official letterhead. My doctor gave me her blessing to walk and wrote it out on her letterhead, which I did not look through until after my Zometa infusion. The official letterhead has a list of all of the doctors that are in the cancer institute. At the very top? Executive Director-Albert B. Einstein Jr. It made me laugh. Albert Einstein and I share a birthday so I have always had a connection to him. I guess if Albert Einstein can spend his time at Swedish Hospital, I can do it too. I am in good hands.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Isn't it strange how as you get older, your memory sometimes isn't as clear as it used to be? If you asked me what I had for lunch yesterday, I probably couldn't tell you. I don't remember it because it wasn't particularly significant. Why is it then that when I woke up this morning the first thing I thought about is that it is July 9th and last year this was the first day of chemo?

I really don't spend all of my time thinking about cancer anymore. I used to, but now I think about other things and getting on with my life. But today I remembered the feelings that were there on July 9th of last year. Dread, fear, anxiety, denial. I kept thinking that someone would tell me during that day that it was all a mistake and I really didn't have cancer and I really didn't need to do chemo.

I kissed my children goodbye without tears but when the babysitter walked me out to the door I started to cry. I'm not sure why-she is a 17 year old girl who definitely had no concept of what I was going to endure that day. She is a family friend though and maybe the tears were because I wanted to be the one that stayed there with my girls. I didn't want to have to have a babysitter to go do something that I was dreading.

Today Larry and I are leaving to go away for the weekend with 5 other couples. We have been doing this trip for 14 years with the same group of people. It is a weekend where we laugh our heads off for 4 days and I am very much looking forward to it. Some of the best memories of my life are from these trips. Maybe I will have a toast tonight to surviving through chemo. Maybe I will toast to having such great friends. Maybe I will toast to having memories-both good and bad.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clean as a Whistle

It has been nearly a month since my surgery. I am feeling pretty good although still have a good amount of swelling and a part of a scar that is not cooperating as much as my doctor would like. Overall though, I would call my surgery a success. I am a much more comfortable size and am back to being symmetrical.

Since I have been diagnosed with cancer before, anytime I have any type of surgery on my breasts, the tissue must go to pathology to be tested. I knew that this was the case and it has definitely caused me just a tiny bit of concern. While I have been physically healing, I continued to have this little nagging thought in the back of my mind that the pathology reports might come back with news that I didn't want to hear.

I hadn't heard anything from my oncologist who received the report so I just kept telling myself that no news must be good news, but I finally called and asked to have an official report. Her nurse called me yesterday to tell me that my pathology report came back clean as a whistle. No sign of cancer in any of the breast tissue that was removed.

Both Larry and I nearly cried when we heard. I didn't realize how much it was weighing on both of us that there was still an unknown. I have an MRI and a mammogram later this month as part of my preventative maintenance plan. For the first and probably only time, I will go into them calmly and without worry.