Sorry for such a long time between posts! Ever since my last chemo, I’ve felt sick, tired, and worn-down to the extreme. I think that I'm finally feeling the cumulative effects after 4 chemo treatments. Besides that, it went smoothly and I even had some visitors: K, E, Aunt G, Barry, Ryan, and my mom, who stayed overnights with me again. Aunt G helped out by driving me home afterwards, and K made me chocolate covered strawberries! (Noticing a pattern with that? Looove it!)
Last week I got tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. It was a simple blood test (well, now I think it’s simple because my picc line requires no needles!) but I won’t get the results back for a few weeks. I am very anxious to find out whether or not I have these genes. Women who test positive have an 80% of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age, and often have triple negative breast cancer. This already describes me. However, I am still hoping to test negative for the gene mutations, because that would mean that I can’t pass it on to my children, my chances of recurrence would be lower, and I would only have a 1.5% risk of ovarian cancer. If I test positive, I would have a 45% risk of ovarian cancer, and would most likely need to have my ovaries removed (oophorectomy) sometime in the near future as a preventative measure. Which, of course, brings up the whole issue of having more kids. Its amazing how cancer manages to make every aspect of your life extremely complicated.
Last Sunday night, I had a scare with a fever that was close to 103 degrees and ended up in the ER. Remember last time this happened I ended up being in the hospital for 2 weeks with those infections? Well thankfully, my fever broke this time, and they just sent me home with antibiotics. They did find that I was neutropenic, which means that my white blood cell count is low, making me very susceptible to infection. (This is even after all of those shots they gave me throughout the past couple of weeks to boost my white blood cell count!) Honestly, I feel like I am neutropenic more often than not these days. I can tell by the sense of weakness in my body that used to get better after a while, but now it just seems to stay. I have still been making a conscious effort to avoid crowds.
I haven’t felt myself this week, probably for a combination of reasons. I think that it is partly due to my terrible sleep patterns and partly due to the weather. I have never liked the cold, and especially not now that it makes the deepest part of my bones ache even more. The only thing that I will miss about winter is being able to wear my soft, warm, comfortable hats! I also feel sad lately that I am missing out on a lot of (social) things that I am unable to do while I’m sick. I hate that it is risky for me to go anywhere, because I am like a magnet for viruses/infections. I hate that I can’t just do things normally, even when it comes to taking a shower! My picc line can’t get wet, and my open wound still hasn’t healed (and it probably won’t for a while, because chemo doesn’t really allow it to). So, this is what a shower has to look like for me: 1. Wrap my arm and picc line tightly with saran wrap and tape both ends. 2. Place plastic sleeve over it for extra protection. 3. Wash my face, neck, shoulders, and arms in the sink. 4. Use hand-held shower head to wash the rest of my body, while holding my right arm out of the water, and being careful around my wound. 5. Clean, pack, sanitize, and cover wound. The good news? I don’t have to spend 25 minutes blow-drying my hair anymore.
Despite all of the extra things I have to do for my picc line (in addition to flushing it each day) it still has managed to become half broken. I was supposed to try to get it fixed today, but since the nurse had a personal emergency, I am getting it done tomorrow morning. I really hope that it works because I need the picc line for 2 more chemos! (And I want to avoid using my veins if at all possible).
I read somewhere that “It’s not what happens to you, its how you react to it.” We are responsible for our own happiness inside, even when we can’t control what happens on the outside. I can honestly say that even in the middle all of these frustrating things, I am happy with who I am and all that God has given me in my life. I am blessed and favored in the eyes of God. If I notice that I am feeling down, I am going to do something to change what I am thinking and how I am acting. You have to be able to know yourself enough to know what makes YOU happy and then actively pursue it!