Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In between

My surgery site gets a tiny bit better each day.  There is still considerable swelling and the numbness may last for years, I'm told.  I found out at the radiation oncologist that I will be set up for radiation in two weeks, and will begin five and a half weeks of daily radiation two weeks after that.  I understand the need to heal before moving on to this next phase, especially given the fact that I have to be able to raise my arms over my head while lying on the table.  I am not even close to that now.

My right arm is definitely presenting a much bigger challenge.  I have never given much thought to lymph nodes and their usefulness, but whatever they do, the lack of them is apparent. I can feel many cords, or bands within my arm, which no longer seem to stretch the length of my arm, inconvenient... The skin on that arm is prickly and painful, as though there is a rash on the outside, but there is not.  And my right arm feels heavier, more tired, and more limp than the left.  I have a feeling that becoming a swimmer again is going to present more of a challenge than I let myself think about prior to this new reality.

However, I am trying every day to appreciate that according to all available information I am presently cancer free.  I am trying not to worry about or look into other available statistics on the likelihood of recurrence later on.  I'd like to say I am a person who wants to learn everything I can about all aspects of my cancer, but the truth is, at this point I am not.  It is either going to come back or it is not.  As much as I can do to keep myself healthy, I will.  I believe, though, that cancer is pretty random, and I can protect myself with only the tools in my control.  The cancer is realistically not in my control.  If it were, I would have made the chemo destroy all of it.  Actually if it were, I would never have gotten it.  In my case, the chemo destroyed most of it, which is great, but if it is true that we can "battle," or "win," then why didn't I in a more complete way?  All through chemo I kept myself fit, rested, well fed.  I tried to visualize the complete response.  Believe me, the outcome could have been much, much worse as far as response to chemo, so don't get me wrong, I am appreciative, but I just can't see much beyond the randomness of it all.

That said, I need once again to be so grateful for the development of Herceptin, which is in a very unrandom way saving my life.  I am off to get my tenth to last infusion this morning, after I finish my banana blueberry carrot broccoli smoothie.  Believe it or not, it tastes pretty good.


  1. It's always good to read your updates, as they bring you closer to being done with this crap. -Julia

  2. You are a heroine, Laura. Thank you for the update. I am praying for you, and as a Catholic, Buddhist, Pagan, I got a few bases covered.
    Lotsa love,

  3. A helpful up-date. My friends with mastectomies have said that exercises and stretching was what worked with all the pain and stiffness in their arms. Easier said than done!

  4. Dear Laura:
    I admire your strength tremendously. Whether you know it or not, your courage and fortitude shine through. I read every word you write! We all are holding you in our hearts