Tag Archives: exercise

Birthdays . . .

30 Nov

Yesterday was my birthday. I had lots of things swirling through my head yesterday. Birthdays are kind of weird for me now. Mostly I am just grateful to have had yet another birthday and extremely grateful to have one that is cancerfree.

This same time in 2008 I was sick, but, didn’t know it yet. Well, that isn’t quite true. I knew something was wrong. I just didn’t know that it was cancer. I was tired all of the time. My body ached. I had intense night sweats. I was told by my doctor that these symptoms probably meant that I was going into early menopause. It never occurred to me or to my doctor that it was in fact breast cancer. But, a few months later I would have a mammogram come back with something suspicious and then everything suddenly made sense – I instantly knew why I was so incredibly tired all of the time.

Marahon shoes

Fast forward through a couple of years (wish I could have . . . ha, ha, ha) of cancer treatment and multiple surgeries (months of chemo, followed by a bi-lateral mastectomy, followed by multiple hospitalizations for post-surgery infections, 6 weeks of radiation, a year of Herceptin infusions, months of daily nurse visits to administer IV antibiotics for the post surgery infections, two reconstructive surgeries – still one more of those to go – lots of trips to the ER and probably a few other things I can’t remember) and here I am . . . on the other side of it all. Or so it seems.

So, this is a birthday that I did not know if I would have. Of course we never know what tomorrow will bring. But, having clawed away through most of that first year post diagnosis to be here, it is really quite something to still be here.

Last year on my birthday I was recovering from surgery. The preceding birthday I was going through radiation treatment (had finished chemo and made it through the first surgery a few months earlier) but, still had two more surgeries and half a year of Herceptin infusions ahead. When I look back on the last two birthdays it is amazing to me that I am as well now as I am.

I don’t know how many more I will have, no one knows how many birthdays they will have. But, it is really something to be here in this way today. Last year was tough, the year before was kind of almost not really bearable. In fact, I remember wondering if I would have another Thanksgiving, another Christmas . . . you get my drift.

Since being diagnosed in 2009 I have met and become friends with many cancer patients. I have lost friends to the same disease that I have, at least for now, somehow managed to survive. It doesn’t make any sense. And, I am well aware of the fact that it could come back any day and simply strike me down. That is cancer: it comes, and it it always goes . . . it is just a matter of whether it takes you with it or not (and I mean that both literally and figuratively).

Last February I stood and watched a friend of mine cross the finish line of a half marathon. I remember how difficult it was for me (not even one year ago today) to simply stand there for 20 minutes waiting to see my friend cross the finish line. I was still so tired and weak. I remember hanging onto a chain link fence for support and wondering if I would make it through (kind of the way cancer treatment and recovery is like . . . hanging on and wondering if you will make it through). I promised myself last year that I would be crossing that same finish line myself some day.

So tomorrow I am buying a new pair of running shoes (compliments of my parents – their birthday present to me). I have ten weeks to get myself, and my new shoes, ready for a half marathon. I fully expect to walk a significant part (if not all) of this “run” but, I don’t care. I just want to get through the 13.1 miles and cross that finish line. Wish me luck 🙂

I am very thankful for this birthday. And, I am so incredibly thankful for my family and friends – without whom I would surely not be here in the way that I am.

Love and peace,

Lisa

 

Gathering up some energy . . .

1 Sep

So, I decided not to take a pain pill this afternoon . . . we shall see how that goes. But, I really am tired of being tired and I think that the pain medication is probably contributing to my sleepiness. I can’t imagine getting addicted to this stuff. I realize that people do, but, I just don’t get it. It’s not like you feel good taking it. You just feel out of it and, the pain does seem to go away for a while. But, it’s not like you take the drug and you are flying high and can’t wait to take another. Maybe that’s not what it is about for people who do get addicted to pain medication anyway. I wouldn’t know. All I know is that the sooner I can be off of this stuff and resume my normal life the better.

I can’t drive until I stop taking it (not a car, not a bike). And, I’ll bet I can’t even operate heavy machinery while I am on it . . . do you see the the limitations I am experiencing?

My main problem with it is the sleepiness – assuming that is what the sleepiness is in fact from. I have actually fallen asleep while talking on the phone (makes me a little concerned about calling back prospective clients).

A professor from UC Irvine’s new law school called the other day expressing some interest in one of my books. This is pretty exciting as I really want to get into UCI and had planned on marketing to them this past Spring for their Fall starting semester. But, cancer kind of got in the way with that. Anyway, I guess this professor saw our books at a local law bookstore (the only one in Orange County) and she wants to make the Torts book (that is the subject she teaches) available to her students. So, that is encouraging. We sell our books at UC Hastings, but, it would be great to get into a local law school bookstore as that would translate to more bar students locally.

Anyway, I have been afraid to cal her back for fear I will fall asleep mid sentence. I will call back soon, I just have to make certain that I am awake enough first.

Let’s see, no real other updates. Just impatiently waiting to be recovered from surgery. I am very bored (probably a good sign as last week I was in too much pain to be bored).

I can’t wait to see the specialist up at UCLA so I can find out more about how I really am doing. I think well. But, Dr. Hurvitz is the oncologist I really trust (she is the one up at UCLA). Plus, I just trust UCLA in general. They developed Herceptin and have treated far more women with my type of cancer I think than anywhere else. So, I feel much more confident in their abilities and knowledge.

My main complaint right now is the heat. I wish it would cool way down. It is pretty tough for me to be outside except in the early am or after dark. So please say some prayers for me and for the weather to cool down a bit 🙂

Surgery this Friday . . .

2 Aug

Today we are celebrating my Dad’s 80th birthday. We are keeping it a pretty small gathering because I need to limit the number of people I am around this close to surgery (because my immune system is suppressed by the recent chemo). So it is just family who are coming. I will get to see my niece and my two nephews and the rest of my family as well. I will put up some pictures here later. It is wierd not to be able to really do anything for this – I am not shopping for it, cooking for it or doing anything really. That is just strange. But, i don’t have the energy for it at all and I do need to conserve my energy. This just goes so against my grain.

Yesterday I cleaned a little bit and sorted laundry and well, that was all I could do. By 1:00 pm I was done and went to bed for the rest of the day and evening. Thankfully a very good friend came over and did my laundry for me. How about that? Pretty sweet of him I must say. There is no way I could have done it myself. It amazing how exhausted I get from just simply putting things away or loading a dishwasher. It is such an odd experience.

I did walk 1/2 a mile yesterday, so that is something. But, it wasn’t easy to do. And, it is so wierd to tire so easily now. I presume that some exercise is best. But, it is hard to tell at this point. I figure since I can walk 1/2 mile that I should. But, I don’t know at this point what is best. I get so tired now with everything I do.

I am not good at laying around and watching movies, or just laying around in general. Oh well. It is temporary.

I got a call today from one of my band members, letting me know they are thinking of me and praying for me and miss me. I look forward to playing with them again as soon as I have recovered from this surgery.

Hopefully my Dad and I will play some today – I think I should get my bass out one more time before surgery. We’ll see how I feel.

Here is our blues band – (pictured also in an earlier post: “The picture on the left is of all of us bald (thank you Paul for joining me in baldness :)) and the picture on the right is before chemo when I still had hair 🙂

Huge Blues BaldHUGE BLUES

Gym or no gym

25 Jul

Lisa&AfricansThis was taken at Bower’s Museum a few weeks ago. The current exhibit is “Passages: Photographs in Africa”. I recommend checking it out. Admission to Bower’s Museum is free every first Sunday of the month. I have put a link to their website on my blog, check it out.

Well, no mile walk for today, at least not until it cools down. It was too hot at 7:30 am for me to do it. So now I am off to the office to pick up the fax of my blood work results so I can see where I am at count wise. I have only been anemic once and it was after the fifth chemo. I really felt it. But, I rebounded after about a week (just in time for the sixth chemo). So, I think I am pretty good right now. In three and a half months of chemotherapy I only became anemic for one week and in all that time I never once left the normal range for my white blood count.

I have decided to add a page here about the diet and exercise routine that I have followed. I am able to see what visitors search for on my blog (not who is searching, but what). I’ve noticed several searches with “HER2+” and “diet”.  So I am going to create a few pages here for cancer patients – sort of the things they never tell you about chemo and getting through it. In all fairness to my medical team, each patient reacts differently to chemo. But, still, there was so much that I had to find out on my own through my own research that really should, in my opinion, have been information that was provided.  The first thing I asked my doctor after being diagnosed was what I should do differently diet wise to prepare for chemo. He said to just follow a balanced diet. I switched doctors as soon as I could and found an MD who practices integrative/holistic medicine. And, I did a lot of research on diet and exercise to support chemotherapy.  I am so grateful for the doctor that I found (she is my primary care physician). And, I am also grateful for not listening to my first doctor.

I am just amazed at how apathetic the medical profession is on average. I was constantly met with this attitude that I just had to take it – accept that I would get anemic, weak, sick and be miserable throughout chemo. That with each round of chemo I would get worse and worse and just have to watch my body physically decline during treatment.

There is just this attitude out there that  “well, you have cancer you know, so don’t expect anything better than suffering and pain and anemia and constantly feeling sick.” Well, that is not how it has to be.

I know that the changes I made in my diet made a big difference in alleviating side affects of the chemo. Granted, it has been no walk in the park. But, it really wasn’t until the last two chemos that my body just started to say “Enough!”  I truly did recover from each chemo round and go back to my “normal” level of activity. I believe my diet and getting exercise has made all the difference for me in staying right side up more of the time than not. I also think that working full time (except for this past week) made a big difference. I know that if I just laid around all the time that it would not have been beneficial. That being said, there are clearly times when all you can do is lay around. But, I believe that moving as much as possible really helped me, even if it was the day the chemo hits and all I could do was a few blocks a few times a day, then that is what I would do.

Okay, well, I am off to go get my blood results and see if it is safe for me to go to the gym today! 🙂

Poor Molly . . .

23 Jul

This is my loyal “pup” Molly, she’s 15 years old. Molly SmilingPoor Molly, she is getting kind of tired of me going through Chemo. She’s not too happy. Resists going for walks unless I am going with her. When someone comes to walk her, she tries to stay here with me, then reluctantly goes ahead, stopping and looking back for me. So sweet, but it makes me feel bad.

I am very tired and weak after this last chemo round. But, I am definitely on the mend. Oh, not that it really matters that much, but my hair started growing back after the fourth chemo, so maybe I am getting a head start on a head of hair. 🙂

Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers and support!

Day three is done, now onto day four . . .

19 Jul

So in chemo speak, day one is the day of chemo, day 2 is the day after, day 3 is the second day after and well, you can see where it goes from there.

So now I am just into day four (since it is now 3:16 in the morning, Sunday).

After a certain number of these numbered days you start to improve some each day and then you start counting your way back to feeling like yourself. I have been really lucky and for most part haven’t felt an incredible cumulative effect from these chemos. But, with chemo round five and now this last one, things have changed a bit for sure.  I think it is the heat. It was really hot the weekend of my fifth chemo and so I was not able to take walks through the day – the heat just turns me upside down. But, with the prior chemo rounds it was cool enough for me to walk most anytime of the day. In my fourth chemo round I was still walking a mile in the morning  or evening on Saturday (the day I am “hit” by the side affects of the chemo). But, it has been too hot to do that the past two rounds.

I did go for a short walk this am, while it was cool. And then I went for a walk around 1:30 am with Andrea who is my caretaker this evening. She was kind enough to go with me and walk my pup Molly at the same time. We heard and then saw a bat flying overhead (that was pretty neat). Anyway, it felt great to walk in the cool air and I felt much better after the walk. So, I think that it the key for me, being able to get exercise during this time, but also being able to stay cool.

Tomorrow (okay, today I mean) I am going to go out early and try to get in a long walk and then repeat it again in the evening.

Well, I am doing pretty well right now, happy to be nearly done with this last chemo and looking forward to the break ahead. From what I am told by women who have gone through this, everything else I have to go through with the treatment (surgery, reconstruction, radiation) the chemotherapy is the worst part of it. Nice to know I guess. And, if it is true then I am glad to be getting the worst part of it out of the way.

Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers, it means so much.  And the traffic on my blog really makes me feel good to know that my friends are following me. Thank you.

Looking forward

3 Jul

So the weekend is nearly here and I am coming out of this past chemo round now, thankfully.  I am feeling a lot better than last night.  There is improvement really with every hour now.  I am so grateful for that. I am not 100% yet, but I am working on getting there.

Fortunately, tomorrow will mostly be rest and time with friends.  And, maybe even a trip to the gym.  I am finding that going to the gym is far easier than walking because with the gym I can always quit when I need to and go home if I start to feel weak. But, once I have walked half a mile, I have to walk it back.  With the heat, this is a bigger issue now as I really can not tolerate much warmth.  So, the air conditioned gym is a great way to go right now.

Well, just wanted to check in and let everyone know I am definitely on the mend from this last round.

I will write more soon.