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.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vertigo, Oy Vey

I've had some vertigo issues over the last 25 years ever since a very serious head concussion when hit by an SUV as I was walking in a crosswalk. Yes, I am lucky to be alive after being tossed through the air for nearly 30 feet. Hmmm, maybe I do have nine lives.

What happens is usually turning to my left side while lying flat on the ground, or in bed. It was much worse for several years after the accident. I would go into a nauseous head spin just from looking straight up at a plane or bird, and have to grab something to steady myself. It's happened less and less over the years, thankfully, and now seems to be more prevalent when my sinuses are bothering me. And that appears to be more frequent since the cardiomyopathy diagnosis. Not sure if fluid buildup adds to this issue, but it seems to. So I went in to see a Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist in January and he wanted me to have a Sinus CT scan. I've been putting it off because my insurance has been so screwed up until just recently. I feel so bad that insurance still hasn't processed the ENT claim from early January that I wanted that resolved before going back. Insurance assures me the claim will be processed by week's end. (Yeah, sure, I've heard this far too many times this year -- Damn you, Anthem Blue Cross)

So last week I started my first of an 8-week session of yoga classes; Gentle Yoga, to be precise. I really enjoyed the class last Wednesday and the upper body stretching. Then we got down on the floor and all went well until.... yes, until I rolled towards the left to grab the belt used for leg stretches, and my head went into a horrible spin that set me sweating profusely from the head, feeling horribly sea sick and not able to stand, for about 10 minutes or more, as I knew I could not keep my balance. Mark came to rescue me and I got home and crawled into bed for a bit and was pretty much affected until mid-morning the following day. This was the worst episode I'd had for quite some time. It was not fun!

I did email my cardiologist latter just to be sure it wasn't heart related. The sweating was different and it did have Mark and I concerned. Thankfully, he said it was benign positional vertigo. Which is due to a disturbance within the inner ear. The inner ear has fluid-filled tubes called semicircular canals. The canals are very sensitive to movement of the fluid, which occurs as you change position. The fluid movement allows your brain to interpret your body's position and maintain your balance.
Benign positional vertigo develops when a small piece of bone-like calcium breaks free and floats within the tube of the inner ear. This sends the brain confusing messages about your body's position.
It is said that a prior head injury (even a slight bump to the head) or an inner ear infection may make some people more likely to develop the condition. There is a procedure that one can do on their own, or with the aid of a physical therapist, to reposition the calcium. That will be a question for my ENT, as I have read about it before and it seems like a complex exercise for one to do alone and get exactly right. Besides, it sends you back into vertigo, maybe even several times during the exercise. YUCK!!!

Now I was much more incentivized to get the scan and follow up with the ENT. Anyway, I had the scan today; and only had slight head spinning as I layed down on the table for it. This was the first time I've had to tell a doctors office about my ICD in case there was any conflict with it and the scan. 

I will see see my ENT next week and skipped today's yoga class for obvious reasons. Now, hopefully we can get to the bottom of all the sinus trouble and also the vertigo. Then I can get back to doing things that are good for me.

These Snoopy's can be found randomly positioned around Santa Rosa, CA; the home of Snoopy Ice Rink 
and Charles M. Schultz Center.
Dr. Joe Cool ~ Heart Throb

Looking forward to my next Stanford appointment in early April. Not sure if they will do another Echo, but am so hopeful that my heart EF may be improving.

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comment.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring is in the Air

The frogs are singing very loudly tonight. We've had a bit of rain over the last week, and more is expected later this week. The grass is green all over the hills and valleys and daffodils are starting to peak out here and there. All this is a good sign, as California has been in desperate need of rain this entire season. We're not out of the woods yet, but things are looking up.

And I continue to feel good. The indigestion is still gone (dare I even say those words), and I'm trying to be active and get out and walk a mile or two a couple of times a week. The rain hampered that a bit recently, but we had the pleasure of attending a family wedding this weekend, and Mark and I actually danced several times. And it didn't seem to set me back too much. The bride and groom were adorable, and it was wonderful to get out, dress up, and just relax and visit with family and friends. Not to mention partake in the silly photo booth.

Photo booth fun at the wedding.
One challenge, a good one I might add, that I've had recently is with clothes fitting. I'm keeping the weight off and the numbers are ever so slowly continuing to go down. I'm not really trying, but I've cut out alcohol except for very special occasions, like the wedding, and trying to be good about what I eat most of the time. I have shopped recently for jeans and tops and such, as everything was just hanging on me and I looked pretty sad. But for the wedding I was able to pull out a few old skirts and a dress that I had stored away. It felt really good to fit into something several sizes smaller. I hope to keep this going in a positive direction, because I have fought with my weight since having children. Not that this is anyway that I'd recommend one use to lose weight. But I'll role with it.

Last week I was able to join my childhood girlfriends from Jr. High and High School for lunch and hanging out for the good part of the day. We try to do this at least a couple of times a year and always have a lot of fun. It's just so good to catch up, share pictures of grandchildren, and plan the next get together. And we always laugh so much -- good for the soul, for sure.

Lunch with girlfriends: L-R Marian, JoAnn, Gwenn, Me & Eileen.
There are no appointments with cardiologists until April. I can only hope and pray that my heart is starting to improve and the next echo will reflect that. Hopefully the plan to meet with the heart transplant team at my Stanford appointment in early April is just a formality. So positive thoughts are in order, and it is still one day at a time. For now, feeling good is half the battle.

But I need to get a quilt done so I can move onto baby girl knitting and sewing. Alura and Stephan's little one will be here in July and that will creep up on me quickly, if I'm not careful.

Gaige loves the water.

And Nico loves his truck.
Meanwhile, Nicco and Gaige bring so much joy to our lives. Little ones are so precious, even when they're throwing a tantrum. And our girls have turned out to be the best mom's in the world. And their husbands are doing a mighty fine job too. So life is very good right now, and for that I am smiling.

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comment.