LIVESTRONG:

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.

WARNING:
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.

*****************************************************************************************

Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's Been a Lovely Holiday Season...

... Full of family and friends, love and compassion, holiday crafting, adventures and treats! 



I couldn't have asked for a better 
December 2016.


I believe some of it is because of being off any chemo drugs for a full month to help me recover from the November 16th mastectomy surgery, plus the extra holiday time this allowed from not spending so much time in treatment and seeing doctors. My body has healed well and rejuvenated, so to speak. My energy level is up, my hair is growing back, I've been feeling pretty normal. And for that I am very grateful.

There is much to update about though. So I'll get on with it.

I see my oncologist next week for a port flush, lab work, and office visit. Hopefully all is going as well as I feel. I started back on my Capecitabine (Xeloda) chemo pills two weeks ago; so I am on the second week of pills right now. Meaning one week on, one week off, and now back onto the "on" week. Some of the side effects return each time I start the pills up again; sluggish bowels, some fatigue. I also seem to be experiencing more hand and foot syndrome symptoms -- the dryness and my feet are very sore even if only standing for a little bit. But all these are manageable in the greater scheme of things.

My hair is coming back pretty good; so much so that I have been going hatless most of the month, when inside and warm enough. This short Do is kind of fun. Maybe I'll keep it on the short while for a bit. But it is baffling to me that the hair on my legs is very dark, where the head is not. And my hair does not seem to be as wavy as it was 5 years ago when it returned after those rounds of chemo. Again, it is all good.

The mastectomy site has healed up nicely. It is not very pretty, but it is what it is. No pain, mostly. Just a bit of tightness and once in awhile a bit of soreness. I feel very fortunate from some of the pain and lymph node/edema issues so many have. Fortunately I did not need to have any more lymph nodes removed so that helped greatly.

I return for checkups with my breast surgeon and cardiologist in early February.

Today I am feeling a bit melancholy. Just kind of off and a bit dizzy. This happens from time to time and is usually related to sinus issues or vertigo. Again, it is manageable; and we will have a nice New Year's Eve dinner, just the two of us, in our cozy home. We may stay awake long enough to watch the ball drop in New York on our new gigantic TV that Santa brought this year. 

So I will close on 2016 after reviewing some of the fun from this month. And in doing so, I am now recalling all the great times with wonderful family and friends; and beginning to understand why I need to take some R&R time -- it's been a busy month (and this is just some of it)!

A Danish Smorgasbord where we learned to build beautiful sandwiches
with wonderful girlfriends who are the best cancer support team anyone could want.




Holiday fun at Cornerstone

A couple of days in SF getting into the Christmas spirit with great friends.

The Christmas tree hunt in Papa's red sleigh

A very serious decorator at 5 years old.
Swedish Lucia Pageant with niece Kiana as Lucia

Hawaiian concert at Green Music Center


Family Holiday Gathering


 





Holiday fun with wonderful friends.


Christmas Day with the family.




 


Wishing you all a Happy New Year 
filled with love, laughter, family & friends!


Peace and Love




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.





Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Feeling Scarily Well

And by that I mean, almost normal, maybe even better than pre-cancer.

Why is that scary, you may ask?

Because it's as if I'm forgetting that I am very sick. Not sick in a feeling way, at least not at this moment, but sick as in terminal cancer. But then, aren't we all terminal in some way? I mean, we will all die, some way, some day. Thinking this way does help me to be real that I am really no different than anyone else.

And again, I digress. 

The fact is that I don't feel as though I can relax into this feeling. While it gives me the opportunity to get out more than usual and enjoy the Christmas Cheer, I know it can be very fleeting. 

And I also know that part of the reason I'm feeling well is I have had no chemotherapy treatment for nearly a month. This reason being that my mastectomy was on November 16th; and my surgeon and oncologist wanted me to stay off all Chemotherapy, or any immune depressing drugs, for a full month to give my body and skin the opportunity to heal as much as it could in that time, and while not taking too long of a chemotherapy break.

Then there is the fact that I haven't been to a doctor's appointment since December 1st, and today is December 13th. That is pretty much unheard of for me since March 1st this year. And I don't have another appointment scheduled until January 4th. Which is pretty amazing these days.

So tomorrow I start back on to my Capecitabine (Xeloda) chemotherapy pill regime. Three pills in the morning and 3 pills at night, a total of 3,000 mg per day. I do that for one full week, then take a week off, then repeat.  

I guess if I'm going to get a reprieve, no matter how long, I'll take it at this time of year.

And hopefully all will continue well going forward. 


Peace and Love




Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.





Monday, December 5, 2016

Have You Voted today?

PLEASE VOTE DAILY. Thank you!  
 
My Blog, Deb's Breast Cancer Journey, is once again nominated for Healthline’s Annual Best Health Blog Contest! Check it out here: 



You can vote once per day until December 12th when the winner will be announced.

 
AND there is a cash award this year.

  1. Click link above. 
  2. Scroll down to search field to vote on page (daily)
  3. Put Deb's into the search window. Be sure to use capital D and apostrophe
  4. Then choose my Blog,and click VOTE.
  5. Click on the box to prove you are not a robot, you might have to scroll up to the top to find that message. 
  6. You may also need to verify email address the first time you vote. After that first vote, your browser makes it much easier for you.
  7. Vote from different devices with different email addresses, if you have them, to vote more frequently.
Thanks so much - hope you can take some time to vote for me.
 

PLEASE VOTE DAILY.


Nominate your favorite health blog until November 21st, then vote for the best, which receives a $1000 cash prize!

Peace and Love





Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Slow Progress

It's been a decent weekend, although I'm still laying low per doctor's orders. I saw my surgeon Friday morning for the bandage removal and reveal (see previous post). He was so sweet to meet me at the back door of their office for a visit, since the office was closed on Friday. Then Mark and I had a lovely lunch out and returned home. By Saturday, the smaller gauze dressing was covered in blood, so another day yet before it is safe to shower. 

The bandage tape is horrible. Maybe it is just because of the type of surgery. I've not had this much pain when removing bandage tape before, and I've had a few surgeries in my life. During surgery, my skin had to be peeled up from tissue on most of my chest so it could be moved to the appropriate area to cover the surgery site and be sutured. It is a large site, and radiated skin has no elasticity, so I have to be very careful so healing continues as it should. I am told that radiated skin can be slow to heal and infection happens more often than with normal non-radiated skin. Whenever I peel off the bandage tape, certain areas feel as though my skin is being pulled away from my body, like it's barely attached (the skin). Thankfully, now I am finally down to a large bandaid. The shower is still on hold until there is less draining and the hole from the breast drain heals up a bit more. 

Saturday afternoon I drove for the first time. I was a bit stir crazy with all the information about shopping and fun holiday events, so I drove down to Sarah's in Sonoma and hung out there, playing games with she and Grandson. Then we took a walk down to the plaza to see the beautiful lights. It was a nice outing. I returned home and Mark and vacuumed the house (Yay!!!) and made chili. I made some corn bread and we had a heart-warming meal. 

By Sunday afternoon, I was finally good to go for a shower. Ahhhhh; that sure felt good.


My artistic hubby. :-)
I'm getting hair. YIPPEE!



















A few Thanksgiving moments...

Cousin love.

Our daughters, their husbands, my brother and his wife.

My nephew with his 3 cousins (our grands). Looks like trouble.


Today is Monday. It is a beautiful sunny morning right now, and  I hope to make it out tonight for a knit night and meditation. Maybe we will even start in on some Christmas decor for the house. We shall see. But I still need to restrict use of my left arm to prevent any edema and swelling, which is a big no-no with the radiated skin and such.

On Wednesday I return to see my surgeon, Dr. Elboim. Hopefully I will get the green light to do the exercises to keep my shoulder loose, and be able to lift over my head and do some light lifting. Then Friday I will return to see my Oncologist to do some labs and see if I am healed up enough and when I can get back on my chemo routine and keep this cancer at bay.

Peace and Love





Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Please Vote For My Blog

My Blog, Deb's Breast Cancer Journey, is once again nominated for Healthline’s Annual Best Health Blog Contest! 

Check it out here: 
http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest

You can vote once per day until December 12th when the winner will be announced.
AND there is a cash award this year.
  1. Scroll down to vote once you are on page.
  2. Then put Deb's into the search window to find my Blog. (Must use capital D and apostrophe).
  3. May need to confirm email, and look for box you will need to check stating you are not a robot. :-)
  4. Then vote!
Thanks so much - hope you can take some time to vote for me.

~ Debbie Emery


Peace and Love





Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

So much to be thankful for...

Today is Thanksgiving morning, and I'm thinking of all that I have to be thankful for; and there is SO MUCH!  💟

On Tuesday I had two doctor appointments. One with the cardiologist at 10:30am, and one with my breast surgeon at 4pm; both in Santa Rosa. The conundrum was what to do in between. Would I be up for all day out, shopping for Thanksgiving pie making and homemade cranberry sauce? We left it open.

My visit with Dr. Dhar, my cardiologist, went very well. So much so, he cut me loose for 3 whole months. He had been seeing me every 6 weeks since chemo can be so hard on the heart. And looking back over the trends from my ICD history in his office that morning, it certainly showed a downward turn from March to June, when the chemo infusions were taking such a toll on me. Thankfully, the Xeloda pill I'm now on is much more tolerable, and seems to be doing the trick. And Dr. Dhar says I'm doing very well now. YIPPEE!

We left there and headed to lunch at one of our new favorite places in Santa Rosa, Collibri Cafe. Then on to Safeway for some shopping. As much as it was totally against my grain, we purchased a large pumpkin pie just in case we didn't get to making one. Which was a good idea since my surgeon later told me that rolling at pie dough was out for me for another week or so. 

We decided to head home for a bit of a rest and to put the groceries away. Then back to Santa Rosa for the followup with my breast surgeon, Dr. Elboim.  When he entered the room, he became very serious, sat down, and proceeded to say just how remarkable it is that the pathology on all my removed breast tissue showed no evidence of any remaining cancer cells ANYWHERE. He even went back to consult with the pathologist and review all my previous biopsies and scans, because he had never seen this happen before. I am truly blessed and thankful. I knew it was pretty amazing, but didn't realize just how awesome it was until he impressed this upon us. GREAT NEWS!! I love it, and will take it over and over again -- the great news. He said the Xeloda is working so keep it up as long as I can.

Dr. Elboim then removed all the bandaging and the On-Q pain pump and tube into my surgery site, which was painless. He said the entire incision looked good, was healthy, and appeared to be healing well. He did not remove the drain though, as that needs a few more days. His concern is that he had so little healthy skin to work with, since the radiation in 2011 and the recent fatty necrosis, and pressure of any fluid buildup could cause skin damage or stitches to pop. So I will wait until Friday where we will secretly meet at the back door, since his office is actually closed. It is so sweet of him to do this for me.

The Big Reveal:
I keep calling it that, but also playing it down saying I am ready, and glad it is behind me now. During the office visit, Mark and I saw my new warrior scar. A large crescent shape incision made to be able to pull skin from the surrounding area so there was enough to do the surgery successfully. I'm glad I did not need a skin graft from another part of my body, or tissue to be rotated from there to here, kind of procedure. And I could see some of the stitches right up to my ICD when the bandages slipped some the last few days. But I'm okay with it. It is what it is, and the cancer is removed from my breast area. This is all very good.

Then out for a celebratory dinner at Sea Thai! Two meals out in one day ~ unheard of!

So all was good until I got cleaned up and dressed for an outing the next day. I put on this cheery red top for the holidays and then looked into the mirror. Tears.... the look of one side very flat, almost concave, and the other plump (saggy from old age and genetics) breast, just hit me. WOW! This IS real and the new me. So I found a baggy loose top to put over the red one, put a smile on my face, and road away with Mark to visit a dear friend who is failing fast after fighting cancer for over three years. The visit was very nice, but very sad. He is in a lot of pain, and sleeps alot. We hope and pray he can go home soon to be in his own comfy space with his dear wife and sweet pooch. We will miss them for Thanksgiving.

Once my incision is healed up enough, I will make an appointment at one of those places that makes the special bras with prosthetic, so I have that option when I want it. And I will get on with my life, and smile through it all.

I am so very Thankful for...
The health that I have at this moment in time. For my wonderful husband who is so good at "Driving Miss Debbie" to all her doctor appointments, infusions, and so much more; and who loves me unconditionally and is my best friend. For our amazing daughters, who bring me much joy and happiness, are married to two wonderful men, and have blessed us with the three most adorable, smart, and funny grandchildren. For my seven siblings and two parents who have blessed me with a wonderful childhood, and continue to bring me much joy to this day (such a goofball bunch we 7 remaining ones are when we get together), and are so supportive and loving, yet all have their own challenges in life, as we all seem to. For all my cousins, and there are a bunch as my Mother has two brothers, and my Dad has 6 siblings. For my dear friends from way back when to right now, loads of great girlfriends and fiber friends, friends from high school, camping friends, farmer market friends, and so many more. And my Facebook friends, and Blog followers.

I am so very Thankful and Blessed 

for all that I have. 

There is nothing more to say

but THANK YOU!


And post a few pics of some of the things I am thankful for...
My wonderful husband, daughters, and grands ~ 

Before grandkids




Beautiful daughterts

 

Amazing hubby

 

 





Mark, Mom and the girls.
A fun night Beach Blanket Babylon with Mom.



My fabulous siblings, et al, throughout the years.

With my Noni, Uncle Lou & Aunt Helen, Mom Dad, and the "little kids" as we called the youngest 4.
Tina's college graduation with all but Donna


All 8 of us at Christine's wedding.

Dallara Family Reunion with siblings and families


Moms, sisters, daughters, powerful women!

Sarah's UofO grad with Alura, Mom, Donna & Christine
My Bobo Seestas

Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, family...
Annual family reunion

Cousin Jen at her Idaho cabin
Cousins Terry & Bob


BFFs all the way back to grammar school ~
The girls at a recent gathering; where are you in these Jer?


Many moons ago.
  

















More girlfriends, cancer buddies, fiber besties ~






Me and my sweetie.... so much Thanks...


Long ago memories.




Peace and Love





Die cancer, DIE. You are messing with the wrong woman!!

Debbie... aka the cancer FIGHTER, AND Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!
B E L I E V E

• I AM STRONG • I AM HEALTHY • I AM LOVED •
THANKS for visiting!        I look forward to your comment.