What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows...

You know that  Lesley Gore  song. Well I'm over the hump!

I'm feeling so much better, the sun is out and shining, weather is warm, the new cria is bouncing around and thriving, two friends (Kathie & Tillie) have knit me beautiful new hats, and received a beautiful Circle of Hope bracelet from my friend Michelle. Then yesterday I had my oncology massage,  ran some errands, and it was wonderful day.

It all started on Tuesday when Sarah and I had a nice day together and then the four of us celebrated her birthday with a Juanita Juanita take out dinner. On Wednesday I got out and about for my massage, ran errands, met Sarah and Chris' new bunny, stopped by the fruit stand and Sonoma Yarn, and just soaked in all the sunshine. Today I'm going to dinner with girlfriends tonight.

One of my stops yesterday was to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for a new sleep aid, Trazadone, recommended by my pharmacist niece Shar. I think it may just do the trick, as it gave me a full 5.5 hours sleep last night and that felt good. So time will tell on this one, but it is worth the try.

I wish you all some wonderful sunshine too! I am happy and enjoying life. And that is what is important right now.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Posting is Getting Harder

Harder, because the down days have been more frequently and it is difficult for me to stay up beat and write when I'm just laying around like a slug; sleeping for an hour or more only to awake and find myself laying on the couch a half hour later and sleeping some more! Of course there are other things that go with this like lack of appetite, queasy stomach, just an overall blah, woe-is-me, kind of feeling. Add to that rain, rain, and MORE RAIN! What is going on here?

My concern is that there will be more and more of these "down days" in between each chemo infusion to where there will be fewer and fewer good days between each one. That, my friends, is not something I anxiously await -- it is something a fear terribly. So..... I will try to stay positive that this was just one of those series where my body had a lot of catching up to do. Perhaps the new drug, Taxol, which begins with the next series (5 of 8) will have less fatigue. I can hope, can't I?  :-)

But yesterday was a sun filled gorgeous day here on Brookfarm in Glen Ellen, CA. And we got out in it and took a drive to Rohnert Park, which felt almost normal. Mind you I still got tired and napped a couple of times, but not like the  three days previous. You see, we have two more crias ready to pop at any moment and only have one cria coat. A cria coat is a little blanket that wraps the crias body for cool nights and stormy days for these first few weeks when their body's thermo-regulator is not quite working up to speed. So we picked up the supplies for a sewing project and some buttons for the BSJ (Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket) that I've almost completed. I think the cute turtle buttons will be the perfect accessory to this adorable knit jacket, although this baby will need to be a two year old toddler for it to fit properly. Guess my guage was off a bit!  :-)

And when we got home from our little excursion, I forced myself out to do some pruning in the garden before the sun set. It felt good to put on my gardening gloves for the first time in forever, dead head some things, and fill up the cart. I even got evening chores 3/4 complete before Mark came out to check on me.

And today is already looking up. I awoke at 4am, as usual, and was feeling kinda good for a change. I have not gone back to sleep yet and it is already nearly 8am. This is a good sign. I've done some bookwork on the computer, written some thank you cards, checked email, knit on the BSJ, and even considered going out to do chores early and surprise Mark. But I will squeeze in a mid-morning nap in preparation to spend the day with Sarah. It is our hope to sort some fiber. After, shearing day is one month away and there is still fiber to send out from the 2010 shearing. And we will celebrate a dinner with Sarah and Chris to honor her birthday of Sunday.  Some Himalayan take out is starting to sound good to me. Yum!

So I do think things are finally looking up. This gives me a glorious week before next treatment and I promise to cherish every moment. Especially Thursday when I get together for an early dinner with girlfriends.  YIPPEE! Now if I can somehow capture this feeling for those 4+ days in between each chemo series and try to stay positive and upbeat. And I know I can with you, all my dear friends, out there rooting for me and helping me to remember there is an end in sight, and it is getting closer each day. Count down right now to end of chemo is 51 days, 15 hours, 50 minutes, 13 seconds!

So... die cancer die; blast those cancer cells to smithereens!!!!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Right on par...

The countdown is hard, but I'm hanging in there. Next week will be chemo series five, and then there will only be three more to go. I am so anxious!!!

The last two days have been right on par with days 4-6 after chemo; cruddy feeling, total fatigue, just laying around wondering how much more I can be in a prone position; wah, wah, wah...... Yep, that is me whining. But it is what it is.

But, we had a new cria born today. A sweet rose grey boy. He seems to be doing well despite this nasty weather. At least the sun came out for a bit of today. But did it ever rain last night, all night long. I was up and down during most of it and it just poured. How much more rain can there be. I'm looking forward to some sunshine for sure.

And then I have something more to celebrate because my little one, Sarah, turns a milestone tomorrow. We will have to put off celebrating until we see each other mid-week. I'm wishing her a day full of sunshine and happiness, just like she is.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Join Me At the Sonoma Relay For Life

Click here to link to my Relay Team ~ Debbie's Blasting Team! You can join the team and come out and walk with me and my family in honor of blasting those cancer cells to smithereens. We will be working to blast those cancer cells to smithereens so your donation is greatly appreciated.

And please come out on August 6th to Sonoma Valley High School for a fun overnight camping trip on the football field and walk a few laps in the Sonoma Relay for Life. If camping overnight is not your gig, then do a few laps during the day, or at dusk when all the beautiful luminaria are lit.

Can't wait to be to this point in my treatment, when chemo and surgery should be done, and perhaps even radiation.

Let's celebrate together!

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 



Did I say that my chemotherapy infusions include some steriods. The NP informed me that this could have a huge bearing on my insomnia, so at least now I have another reason to understand why waking anywhere from 4 to 6 am on a regular basis is my pattern, even when taking a sleep aid around 11pm. It sure helps to have a reason.

Here is a brief excerpt on steroids and chemo:

What are steroids? Steroids (sometimes called corticosteroids) are substances that are naturally produced in the body. They are made by the adrenal glands (small glands above the kidneys).

They help control many different functions in our bodies such as the way in which we use fats, proteins and carbohydrates. They regulate our immune system and the balance of salt and water in our bodies. They also help to reduce inflammation.
Steroids can be manufactured synthetically as drugs. There are different types of steroids and they all have different effects on the body. Common types of steroids that are used in cancer treatment are hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and prednisolone.
Steroids can be used as part of your treatment, to help destroy cancer cells and make chemotherapy more effective.
They can also be used to help reduce an allergic reaction to certain chemotherapy drugs, in low doses as anti-sickness drugs, or to improve appetite. In these situations steroids are usually given only for short periods of time, and the side effects described here will not usually occur.
Behavioural changes You may notice mood swings, difficulty in sleeping and perhaps anxiety or irritability. These effects happen mainly with high-dose or long-term treatment and will stop when the steroid therapy ends.
Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Half Way There!!!

And we all couldn't be happier!

And I was presented with a lovely little bouquet of daffodils at RRCC for Daffodil Days.

And Sarah escorted me to chemo this time so we knitted and visited, and I took a good nap.

Then we returned home to find a wonderful dinner delivered by neighbors Debbie and Joe, all warm and ready for us. What better way to brighten one's day!

So from my January 10th diagnosis to my fourth chemotherapy infusion on March 22nd feels like such a long journey, but it feels so rewarding as well. Up until now it has been an uphill climb. But now, to know that I am half way through the eight series of chemo, feels so good; like I am over the hump and headed down hill just coasting along with the flow.

It took these eight weeks to understand the roller coaster of chemo and get a feel for which are the good days, and which are the not-so-good days. It seems like I should have figured this out much sooner, but the need to log each time I take my meds just to help me remember when I can have more has also helped to provide a journal of how I've felt and when, and then pinpoint it all back to the last chemo . This has all helped me to see that there is a routine I can now almost rely on.

Of course, I just finished the first series of drugs which were the Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide. Now I get to look forward to something new, the Taxol (aka Paclitaxel, or Onxal), which could mean new or different side effects. So while that does pose a bit of anxiety for me, I figure it can't be much different than what I've already experienced, there just may be different highs and lows of a roller coaster, or so I can only guess.

That was all yesterday. Then today Mark and I returned to the Cancer Center for my Neulasta shot. But before leaving the house, cousin Terry called to see if she could see me today. So we set up a lunch date at Mary's Pizza in Rohnert Park, and Bob was able to join us too on his lunch break. We had a nice long visit and just hung out there for a couple of hours. Terry delivered a bag full of CELEBRATECOURAGE pink breast cancer bracelets from her daughter Jecca. I have plenty, so if you haven't received one yet, be sure to remind me.

This completes two days of feeling the love and feeling good. And those cancer cells are continuing to be blasted to smithereens.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gearing Up...

Gearing Up for Chemo Number Four

Finally, a few nights with a decent 6 hours of sleep each. And I've been able to nap some over the last few days as well. I'm guessing my body is playing catch up.

There is this whole wave of feelings and emotions I repeat between each chemotherapy series, which lasts two weeks. It starts with me feeling pretty good immediately after the chemo session. Then that slowly digresses so that on days 4-7 after chemo, I really can't commit to anything and pretty much sit around trying to keep it all in balance and trying to be positive and look forward to that 1 week point where most of the symptoms will then be very mild. It's a wave I'm riding, and I have to admit I've never been a surfer, or good at balancing on something wobbly. It just throws me for a loop for sure.

So this must be one of the lessons that cancer is teaching me ~ how to be flexible and go with the flow. I'm learning! Karen reminds me that the best healing takes place when the body is sleeping. So I am concentrating on how to get the best sleep I can, whenever and where ever I can. I suspect I'll get it all down just in time for chemotherapy to end. And that will be just fine by me.  :-)

At this point in the "wave",  I am gearing up for Chemo Series #4 tomorrow, and so looking forward to being halfway through chemo. I'm feeling pretty good right now, and very happy about that. And! The sun is even out today!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Things Are Looking Up :-)

Looking up ... AND, Looking GOOD ~
The Tumors Appear to be Shrinking!!!

Today, Friday, was one of those great days in my life right now. After taking care of things around the farm, we headed into Redwood Regional Cancer Center for my semi-weekly appointment to  do a blood draw and meet with the Doctor or NP. Today, Dr. Anderson is on vacation, so we will see the NP, Theresa.

Prior to the blood draw in the infusion center, the nurse noticed that the edges of my port incision looked a little "angry"; probably because the ends of the stitches were still hanging out. I told how we had tried to clip them, but they were just too short to get a hold of. She was able to get one side out, which was so good, since these had really been bothering me since the Port procedure. We will work on the other side on infusion day.

Then it was off to wait a bit to get the blood results back and see NP Theresa. The blood work is good to go for next transfusion - YEAH. I am a bit anemic, so we will be watching this as time progresses. But this changes nothing at the moment. Then we went over some of my questions and again the big "sleep" question. Theresa confirms that yes, the pre-meds are a steriod so hence the "amped up" feeling I get for several days after infusion. And chemo is putting my body through a lot so I need to do my best to find what works for me and then "roll with it", as Mark says. If I'm overly tired and fatigued, sleep whenever it hits me. If I'm not, make the best of the awake hours I have and then sleep when I can. I'm finding the Ambien helps me to get, at best, 5-6 hours of solid sleep, Which is about 2 more than I seem to get on my own. Theresa did write me a prescription for,  which my Pharmacist Niece Sharleen has suggested I give a try. So I will get that filled this weekend.

We talked about how now I probably have noticed a routine from chemo to chemo and can predict good and bad days. And that is so very true. So I can try to be proactive with my schedule and life, things I take and when, and then "roll with it".

But the great news is that at the end of the session Theresa did a physical exam. She estimates that the tumor area is down to about 3 cms, from the original size of 6 cm, which is what Dr. Anderson recorded on my first exam. WAHOO

That is so fabulous. All this crappy feeling is a good thing.

The chemo is blasting those cancer cells to smithereens and they are retreating and giving up the fight.  
I am a warrior, AND I WILL SURVIVE! 

So... this is not yet the end of the great day Friday was. Mark and I celebrated  this good news with a late lunch at Betty's Fish and Chips and brought home a little berry pie for tomorrow night. Then we headed home for a little nap. You see, I had planned a big date tonight with my dearest girlfriends from high school. Our plan was to meet at 6:30pm at London Lodge to do some catch up, hang out, laugh and have fun. And boy did we ever! It was so great to get together with Jerry, Gwenn, Jan, Jo, and Marian. But we missed Eileen too. We started at the Lodge and then headed over to Fig Cafe when we realized the lodge stopped serving food at 8pm. The laughter and silliness continued until 10:30pm, when I called for my car and my knight in shining armor Mark arrived to charriot me home the couple of miles from downtown Glen Ellen. Boy did we laugh and have fun. It was fabulous and hopefully we can do it again real soon.

Here's to more great days like today!!!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Luck O' The Irish To Ya

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Not All Breast Cancers Are the Same ~ TNBC

My Story ~ Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) an aggressive type of breast cancer found in about 15% of breast cancer cases. This is what I have and this series from Discovery Channel does an exceptional job of explaining it all very well. A must view!!!

Discovery Channel TNBC Part I

Discovery Channel TNBC Part II

Discovery Channel TNBC Part III

Discovery Channel TNBC Part IV

Triple Netagive Breast Cancer Foundation

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cancer Angels

Thanks to all my cancer angels

Thank you so very much to all my cancer Angels. There are so many of you. There is my ever so supportive and loving family, Mark, Alura & Stephan and Sarah & Chris. I could not get through this without their love, support, and respect, as well well as their extended family's prayers and well-wishes. There is my huge family of 3 sisters, Donna, Nancy and Tina; and 4 brothers. Rich (I know you are looking down on me, bro!), Dan, Ed, and Matt. We have always been close, but this experience has taught us to be even closer and more in touch on a regular basis. It has been an amazing journey with you, and I love you all so very much.

There are the survivor cousins, Kathy R and Kathy B, who both went through breast cancer (BC) 15 and 5 years ago respectively. There is Denise who is a 15 year BC survivor; as well as Joan and Joyce, alpaca friends who are also BC survivors. There is Mike and Steve, who have both been through treatment the last few months or years. There is Sue who has first hand experience with her mom's second bout with BC, and Karen my oncology masseuse. They have all helped to make the road less frightening and offered so much love and support it is amazing.

Then there are my girlfriends, who I will see this weekend for a little gathering. We go back to elementary and high school days and the bond is as close as it can be. We are like sisters of the best kind. There are other girlfriends I will be seeing real soon and all my knitting/spinning/fiber babes who have been there by my side rooting me on, knitting me hats and shawls, and sending all their love and prayers.

There are all my alpaca friends, my neighbors, and Farmer's Market buds and friends who are popping up after a long time  of no-see, sending cards, dropping off food, just offering support in any way they can.

And I can't forget the total strangers who have logged in to send their encouragement, prayers, and love; or those I may have missed mentioning here.

To all of you out there, from me, a very heartfelt thank you to everyone for all your love and prayers, tips and tricks, well wishes and blog comments... FOR EVERYTHING!!! 

It is so heartwarming to find the almost daily  comment on my blog and know that I have so many friends and loved ones rooting for me. I put out a positive attitude, most of the time.  :-) But this is no jog in the park, by any means, and those frequent words of encouragement, prayers and hope really do mean a lot to me.

Hugs to you from across the driveway to across the country, and even the pond! I have an Angel of Hope here reminding me daily of all your well wishes, and it means the world to me.


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Monday, March 14, 2011

2 Steps Forward....

2 Steps Forward.... One Step Back

I'm getting to know my routine, and there are certain days I need to anticipate as "down days", where I make absolutely no plans to leave the house or receive visitors. That seems to be around day 4-6 of Chemo, chemo being day 1. These are the days when I feel like crap.... nausea, no appetite, irregularity (love this word!), little sleep. Did I say CRAP, loud enough. 

The yucky feeling doesn't all go away then, but it does start to slowly subside where the meds seem to keep it in check, some prunes do the trick, and I just nap during the day whenever I get the urge. (Remember, I am blogging about my cancer experience. It is not always a pretty story, so my apologies for the graphic details).

So, I seem to be over the slump on one of these series of days. This morning (yep up at 2am and blogging at 3:30am - joy, JOY), it is day 7 from Chemo #3, and yesterday was a day where we had visitors and by the afternoon I felt somewhat "okay". Mind you, this morning the nausea is back so one of those sweet pills that also cause drowsiness appears to be in the very near future. But this too will pass and then I will feel pretty darn great as I get ready to start it all over again. 

But soon I will be half of the way there. And that is a very good thing.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Friday, March 11, 2011

Slideshow of Last 10 Days

A fun slideshow of Donna's recent visit, and my transition from wavy locks, to the new Bald is Beautiful look. Enjoy!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tea Bags

I've received many, many cards and good wishes. But I just received my second of this one, and I love the quote:

Women are like teabags.

We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Two Months Behind Me :-)

Two months since diagnosis
  • One month into chemo treatment; with 3 months or so to go
  • Then a month or so till surgery, hopefully a lumpectomy
  • Finished off with 1.5 weeks or so of radiation.
 So about 6 months to go and counting. 
We are getting there one step at a time!  :-)

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chemo 3; 37.5% Complete

Yippee.... 37.5% of chemo complete. That's almost halfway and it feels good.

My treatment went very well, and I've felt good the whole day after. Not even any anti-nausea drugs today.

Donna and Sarah accompanied me this time and Nancy dropped by for awhile to visit too. I think they all were pleasantly surprised at how uneventful the actual infusion is. The hardest part was probably watching the manual push the nurse does of the red Adriamycin. But as usual, I eliminated some of it even before we left the infusion center.

My support team for Chemo 3:

Happy faces I see from my chair -- L-R: Donna, Sarah, Nancy

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Monday, March 7, 2011

Prepping for Chemo #3

Well, the last few days have been very, very good. We had a busy weekend with some farm visitors and our first cria of the year is due to arrive soon. Donna returned on Sunday after taking the weekend to visit our two other sisters, Nancy and Tina, and spend time with their families, and to see brother Dan. It sounds like they all had good visits. Then Sarah and Chris came up for a visit Sunday evening.

So today, Monday, Donna and I spent the day relaxing and having fun. That last day before the next chemotherapy infusion is bittersweet. It's like having dessert and knowing you may feel sick from it the next day. Good, but anxious at the same time. And wondering why in the heck we do this to ourselves.

But for me, the sick part is something I try to look forward to. It really isn't that the infusion (don't you love this word?) itself is uncomfortable. There actually is little to know negative feeling during the process. It is the several days of feeling yucky, blah, and just not right that follow treatment that I dread. Then there is this almost exhilarating feeling of, "Oh my goodness, I'm feeling normal again, and this FEELS SO FABULOUS." All the while knowing you are leading up to that yucky feeling again.

So, self I say, tomorrow is a wonderful day. Tomorrow is Blast the cancer Cells to Smithereens day. (NEVER give cancer the weight of a capital c).  And besides, this time around I get to share the experience with my dear sister and sweet daughter, and Mark will get a break for a change. It will be a first for each of them; and I know they will be relieved to see that chemo is really not all that eventful, and they can feel better about what I am going through during the actual treatment.

Die, cancer DIE.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brookfarm Fun

Most of you know that Mark and I raise alpacas and our business name is Brookfarm ~ Alpacas in the Valley of the Moon. But for those who may have found me randomly, and would like to see some fun and cute shots of our alpacas, here is the latest blog entry from our website. It definitely is a little lighter than this site. Enjoy!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Many Miracles Being Offered Up

Your Health Tip for the Day!

When I hear things like "inducing cancer cells to commit cellular suicide" my ears perk up!

It's not quite daily, but it is often that I receive a "tip" from a friend or acquaintance of the next miracle cancer preventing food or product of some sort. Some of these are believable, some...... well we each need to make our own decisions, don't we? While I have already changed my lifestyle considerably; no caffeine, little wine, juicing, small portions more often, loads of greens, prunes daily, plenty of water and herbal tea; many of these changes have been due to diet restrictions or appetite changes as a side effect of the chemo. But I am always open to ideas and suggestions. All ideas are worthy of further investigation, in my mind.

Each time I learn something I think I might try, I check in with my oncologist. One thing I learned early on is that some things can interfere with chemotherapy treatment, or they are unknown as to their affect with chemo. Why would I want to counteract this life-changing process I am going through and delay it any longer. HELLO!!!!! So I ALWAYS ask Dr. Anderson, my oncologist. He's told me I can paint my head with henna, but to give the baldness some time as my head will be tender for a bit. He suggests I save the reservatrol until after chemo because the effect of concentrated supplements/vitamins on chemo is unknown and in some cases known to lessen the effect of chemo. He often politely says to wait until after chemo treatment is finished, then give it a go. He actually suggested yoga for relaxation recently when we discussed my insomnia, which pleasantly surprised me. He brought up the medical marijuana as an option if drugs prescribed for nausea don't do the trick. He suggests "eating the food" rather than taking a high dose supplement of something we can get from food. Everything he says is believable, sensible, and speaks of moderation. What a guy.  :-)

Something that pops up over and over are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) and dried beans. I've already tried the asparagus juice, but much prefer eating asparagus and do it quite frequently this time of year. And you know all about beans now from a previous post.

So the latest bit of healthy eating tips comes from my dear friend Sue, and it is worthy of sharing. SUPER FOOD BROCCOLI to the rescue.

I love steamed broccoli and use it and the kale in my daily juice. As a kid I would smother it in mayonnaise, and then I would mash it into a pulp with my fork. Yum, yum. I pretty much gave up mayo many, many moons ago. Now I prefer a light splash of vinaigrette over my broccoli, if anything at all. So check out this article below about all the wonderful reasons we need to add more broccoli into our diets. Anything that induces cancer cells to commit cellular suicide, in my mind, is a no-brainer.  And besides, that fun word angiogenesis comes up again AND broccoli is delicious. Enjoy!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Friday, March 4, 2011

The Time Has Come...

 ... To do something about this mess of a head of hair I am sporting. There is still a bunch there, but I have lost so very much that it has become oh so very thin and sickly. Each time I brush my hand over my head, the hand is full of hair. And when I brush it, well that is another very sad story. Then there is all the hair stuck to my clothing, where ever I sit, my pillow. It is quite disgusting to me right now so it is time!

So Thursday evening was the date. Donna had arrived from Helena the day before. And given her past profession as a hair stylist, we decided we'd start with a short do, since there seemed to still be even coverage.

Before (hair thinning)......................During................Bobo Seesters Have Fun

Photographer & Sweetie..............."Temporary" New Do..............The Trio

But then I showered and so much more hair came out. So I slept on it for one more night with my head tightly wrapped in a scarf. By the next morning I was over it. Mark pulled out the hair clippers and clipping away he went. The bristly bit of stubble that was left felt tender and awkward to the touch.

Bald is Beautiful! (Or so I keep telling myself)

But Donna and I headed out to my Oncology appointment , along with Basooka, with me donned in a bit of makeup, one of Gail's scarfs and Sarah's hand-knit hat. We met up with Nancy and Tina later at Mary's Pizza Shack, Windsor for an impromptu lunch; And I never looked back.

L-R: Nancy, Donna, Debbie (Tina back to work already)

So now the task is to get the Neutrophil numbers up to a reasonable level before chemo next week, as they are too low right now for treatment to proceed. So it is rest, good food, lots of fluid, and more rest for the weekend.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chemo Brain

If you haven't heard the term Chemo Brain, then let me give you an example right here and now. 

Let's say you have an appointment for a lovely oncology massage first thing in the morning. You've made it at this time because you want to get home immediately afterward and catch a nap to relish the relaxing mood the massage gives you. But you realize that your pantry shelves are bare and you decide to make a quick trip to Lucky's to get a bunch of greens for morning juicing, fruit, some yummy yogurt, bran flakes, etc. -- This all before the massage so you can still go directly home afterwards.

You park right in front of Lucky's and then banzai through the store so as not to be late for your massage. You leave the cart right there over the curb next to your van because it is a drizzly morning and you do not want to be late. You then pop into your van and drive the 10 minutes or so to Karen's house for the massage. As you exit your car, your purse is no where to be found. You freak out big time. You walk into Karen's studio and apologize that you need to return to the store because you have very stupidly left your purse and all its belongings somewhere for anyone to take off with, like in a shopping cart in the parking lot of a grocery store. - Chemo brain for sure!

Karen totally understands, so you pop into your van, but the back sliding (auto) door will not close. You try about 3 times but each time it nearly closes, then pops back open. You check that you are in park and then you turn off the ignition, and still no luck. Is it the incline of the driveway???

So you dash back into Karen's Chestnuthill Retreat studio, now in tears, and ask if she will drive you down to Luckys to "hopefully" retrieve your purse. But then the door closes suddenly. So off you go, on your own anxiously thinking.... "Did I leave it in the shopping cart, I couldn't have left it in the store, surely it isn't hiding here in the car somewhere???" You arrive at Lucky's, and there is your purse. A little damp from the drizzly rain, sitting right in the top basket of the shopping cart, parked righ t where you left it, iphone inside, wallet still there, cash, zipper wide open. Whew ~ You just dodged a huge bullet. The day has been saved.

This is Chemo Brain at its worst!

But the day continues to get better. Early that morning, I had actually been able to fall back to sleep for an hour or so after my now usual 3am wake-up time. I got showered and out of the house early for once. My hair is still on my head, albeit much thinner and not lasting much longer for sure. I have lots of lovely veggies, fruits, supplies to restock my shelves, Mark is home diligently working on our books and taxes (what a guy!!!), my henna kit has arrived, and Donna then arrives mid-afternoon. Can it get any better? Not for the moment, anyway!

So, we have finished our day off, with the two Bobo Seesters sitting and chatting, then doing a walk around to see where the fiber studio/farm store is planned, and to do chores; all giving Mark more time on the computer. Donna gets to meet Mr. friendly Dakota, and help collect some beauties of eggs. Then we return to the house to start a pot of whole grain/wild rice to go with the mexican beef soup from Carol and Gail and the mole enchiladas from Karen and Mike. A very yummy meal indeed, and just what the doctor ordered after another busy day.

So the day is over and all three of us are tired from traveling, working, and just doing.... So we turn in early. Me.... with the hopes that when that 3AM wake up happens, I can shuffle around the house for a bit, and then catch a couple of hours of sleep. This plan seems to have worked last night provided I take the right the anti-nauseau prescription which causes drowsiness.

My suspicison is that the "bald is beautiful" will be the theme of tomorrow. I found a good bald patch while brushing today, and there is no time like the present. So stay tuned for the hatted, scarfed Debbie to appear sooner than later.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When Do I Become a Survivor

RIGHT NOW ~ As Kris Karr says, -- why wait?

And I like this take. After all, I am surviving every day right now. So from now on, I am Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor .

Today was a crazy day with lots of visitors, food drop offs, egg pick ups, and an overall day with Sarah, finished up with a visit and dinner with Ada. I even helped with chores this morning, and that felt good. So you could say that this was an improvement over the "woe is me, down in the dumps" day of yesterday; THANK GOODNESS!!

Mike, Gail, and Carol all stopped by separately to visit and drop off a lovely selection of home cooked frozen items we will have later when we need them. Then Kate stopped by for eggs and a visit. And lastly, Carmen delivered a lovely food bag from my prior Sonoma County Farm Trails fellow board members. We had a nice visit and I was able to show her around the farm a bit and meet Dakota, the friendly alpaca, up close and personal.

Then Ada came up to visit and have dinner with us. We had a nice relaxing evening and I finished it all off with a decent hour to bed with the hopes to get a full nights sleep before my oncology massage with Karen in he morning and Donna's arrival early afternoon. The sleep thing has been the biggest challenge right now, so wish me luck.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; AND survivor 


Breast Cancer Statistics

Here are some breast cancer statistics.

  • About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2010. Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.
  • From 1999 to 2006, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2% per year. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
  • About 39,840 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women. More than 1 in 4 cancers in women (about 28%) are breast cancer.
  • Compared to African American women, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer, but less likely to die of it. One possible reason is that African American women tend to have more aggressive tumors, although why this is the case is not known. Women of other ethnic backgrounds — Asian, Hispanic, and Native American — have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer than white women and African American women.
  • In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
  • About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. Women with these mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, and they are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age (before menopause). An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, about 1 in 10 breast cancers are believed to be due to BRCA2 mutations and even fewer cases to BRCA1 mutations.
  • About 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).