Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Happiness and Angels

I can't believe that I didn't post on Christmas!  I guess everything just got busy and it went by the wayside.  The holidays have been great for our family.  We were able to spend great time with the girls, with my family and even with friends.  I finished all of my shopping and wrapping early so I even had some stress-free days when everyone else was running around like crazy people.

As always, I am grateful and happy to have good health for me and my family, but have been saddened by several events over the last couple of weeks.

First, I was upset to hear that a friend and former colleague has been diagnosed with breast and lung cancer.  Her family support position is not ideal and even though I know she is as tough as they come, I can't help but worry that she will at times feel alone in her journey.  I think about her every day, knowing that she has good medical care and lots of friends who care about her and hoping she will find the strength wherever she can. 

My sister gave birth to her first daughter on December 22nd of 2003.  She was born prematurely and lived only a few short hours making it into December 23rd by just a hair.  I was with her when she was born and stayed until her last breath.  Every December 22nd there are tears remembering her sweet little face and the injustice of her death.

This year my cousin Jeff went through something similar, losing their beautiful baby girl just days before she was due to be born.  On December 23rd, I received a package in the mail with a lovely photo tribute to their sweet baby girl.  Again, the injustice of a life not lived brings me to tears and the wrenching words of the grieving parents nearly caused a complete breakdown on my part.

My Great Uncle came to our holiday open house this year.  His first Christmas since my Great Aunt Mae passed away.  They were together for some 60+ years.  Though I was very happy to see my Uncle, seeing him tear up throughout the evening was heartwrenching.  Though she lived a long and happy life, it was not for her that I was sad this year, it was for those she left behind.

My holidays were happy, but with that happiness comes a bit of melancholy as well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Cheer or no Cheer

It is the holiday season with families gathering all over the world to share food, drink, love and more. I love this time of year and love the cheer that goes along with it. However, since my diagnosis, I have been more cautious about the cheer that I partake in.

I gave up sugar and sugar substitutes and all forms of corn syrup immediately after I was diagnosed and have stuck with that. This makes some of the holiday gatherings more challenging, but doesn't really bother me to not partake in the cookies, candy and pies. (OK, in full disclosure, I do drool over the Starbucks counter looking at the Cranberry Bliss bars which are only available this time of year and I definitely take a second glance at my mother-in-law's homemade almond roca!)

I have never been much of a drinker, only drinking in social situations, but I have dropped that considerably since my diagnosis as well and probably have 1 drink a week. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy a margarita or a good glass of wine just as much as anyone else, it just isn't worth the increased risk of a recurrence for me.

Now there is a new study out connecting alcohol consumption with breast cancer recurrences. Studies are only studies and I know scientists can read whatever they would like into them, but this one says that with women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer that drinking can increase their chances of a recurrence significantly. Since I have been doing everything I can to decrease my chances of a recurrence, I think I will be finding more joy in family and friends and maybe a little less in a glass.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


As of today, I have been taking Tamoxifen for exactly one year. One down and 4 to go. I don't know why 5 is the magic number, but it is what my doctor has recommended. I do know that a higher percentage of recurences happen within the first 18-24 months of initial diagnosis, but after that, the risk kind of levels off.

For the most part, I don't have significant side effects from Tamoxifen aside from hot flashes and night sweats from being in chemo-induced menopause. I do sometimes have joint pain, especially in my ankles. But that's it really. Oh and I can't eat grapefruit as it interacts with the drug. A minor nuisance to give up grapefruit and grapefruit juice for 5 years.

It is hard to imagine that a tiny little white pill is responsible for such a big role in my body. Its role is to keep the estrogen from attaching onto any cell that might consider becoming a cancer cell. In theory, because I had chemo and radiation, I should have no cancer cells in my body so there should be nothing for any estrogen to attach onto.

I am glad to have yet another milestone under my belt.