Dawn C. Meier
Learn about the author and her books.
Below is a new addition to my website.  In July 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am sharing my personal Diary of My
Cancer Journey with anyone who wants to learn more about my experience.

I am offering a Diary of my Cancer Journey to my family, friends, and readers.  The reason I am opening my very private life up to you is because I found out that so many people have never known anyone who has had breast cancer and are very curious as to what it all means.  Probably the hardest part of the journey is keeping everyone up-to-date so I decided to write it all down and direct everyone who is interested to read what my Journey is all about.  I will try to update as best I can on days I feel up to it.  Every day is a new day and a new experience. 

This is not to scare anyone, nor get anyone worried it will happen to them.  I am just telling you my experience, underscoring that everyone is different and reacts in very different ways. 

If you have specific questions or words of encouragement, please email me at goosebmp31@aol.com.  I will try my best to respond to your requests. 

MY CANCER JOURNEY

July 13, 2012

Appointment with radiologist for routine mammogram.  Into Salem for the yearly thing I have to do, but always think it so unnecessary.  I am 67 years old, and if I haven’t had breast cancer by now, I never will.  I need some things at Costco, so it won’t be a completely wasted trip.

July 16, 2012

Radiologist called and wants me to come in for an ultra sound of right breast.  “Saw something on mammogram that they want to take a closer look at.”  OK, no problem, been through this before.  A shadow or something showing up and a call back needed.

July 18, 2012

Into Salem for an ultra sound.  Technician took ultra sound probe and laid it directly upon the spot they were looking at.  I was looking at a screen on the wall.  There is was, as bright as day and about a foot in diameter at least on the monitor—a round mass.  Technician moved around and took different pictures of the mass.  It looked like a small petite pea, very round but edges were “puffy” looking like a bunch of little round balls all in a round mass.  One angle actually looked almost like a perfect heart.  What a dear message it was sending to me I thought. “Don’t worry, I am just a benign little thing growing in your breast.  I Heart you.”  Well, I thought, I don’t heart you—get out of me!  Doctor looked at pictures and said, “Don’t worry, it’s probably nothing, but we want to take a biopsy just to make sure.”  Well, that doesn’t sound good, but not to worry until there is actually something to worry about.

July 20, 2012

An ultra sound biopsy takes approximately 90 minutes.  You are taken into a procedure room and laid upon a table.  The ultra sound technician goes over everything that is going to happen during the procedure.  Then you lay there until a doctor is freed up to come in to do the biopsy.  I keep my eyes closed after meeting the doctor because I don’t want to know what is actually happening. 

A lot of bustling around me and the ultra sound probe finds the mass for the doctor, he deadens the skin some, then he says you will feel a little prick as I make a slit in your skin.  Didn’t really feel much, more like a needle prick.  Then he inserts a small plastic tube to guide his instrument to the mass site.  He slides the instrument into the tube as he looks at the monitor.  He gets to the mass and takes two quick samples.  The instrument sounds a lot like a stapler or the hole-punch when getting a pierced ear.  So far no pain, just the sensation of touch and movement.

So two samples are not enough I guess and he proceeds to reinsert and take a total of 10-12 samples on different parts of the mass.  Wow, I would count this doctor as thorough if nothing else.  The doctor leaves and the technician finishes up with a bandage and I am done.  It takes about three days for the lab to come back with a diagnosis.  Ok, the first countdown begins.

 

July 24, 2012

On the way to town today to get maintenance work done on pickup and grocery shop.  My cell phone rings and displays my family physician is calling.  As I was holding my breath, he tells me they found malignant cancer cell in the mass.  Wait a minute, I have not been worrying because it looked innocent.  I guess this is the time I can start worrying.  Do I have a surgeon that I am comfortable with and we can make an appointment?  No, I don’t even know anyone who has or ever had breast cancer.  No one in my family, none of my friends, this is all a shock and something that was never on my radar screen.  I trust my family physician and told him to pick someone he knows and trusts. 

 

July 25, 2012

On our way into Salem to see a breast cancer surgeon.  So far I am not panicking much.  Mainly, because I have no idea what to expect.  I met with a wonderful doctor who explained all my options and between the three of us (husband, Jim, went with me to all appointments), and because the mass is very early on in diagnosis and no more than ¾ centimeter in mass, a lumpectomy, radiation, and hormone therapy would be the long term treatment.  Again without really knowing anything about what was to come, I just started with surgery to get rid of the damn thing and would deal with other treatment as it came to me. 

At this point, no one, not my family physician, me, nor even the surgeon could actually “feel” the mass.  So, the lesson learned here is EARLY DETECTION and mammogram is the best way to get even earlier detection than self-exam. 

Surgery was scheduled for August 3, 2012.  Two days prior to surgery, an appointment was scheduled for a consultation visit with the oncology radiologist. 

 

August 1, 2012

The consultation appointment made at the oncology radiologist was one and one half hours long.  I met with support people from the Salem Cancer Institute, a litany of different people in the oncology radiology and, finally with the oncology radiologist himself.  Wow, I have never seen so much support and piles of information on what to expect during my cancer journey.  Everyone was so nice and helpful.  I was overwhelmed. 

I met more than a half dozen different people, then the oncology radiologist came in for a face-to-face on what to expect.  At this point, my head is reeling, my eyes are glazed and I probably retained about 30% of what he was talking about.  I now know why I was given a 3-ring binder of information—I could read it later on down the line when I had questions.

Radiology on the breast site would start about a month after surgery (first part of September) and require we go to the Salem Cancer Institute for this procedure Monday through Friday for Six Weeks!!  Jim and I looked at each other.  We had our annual month long reservations at Coyote-Rock RV & Marina for Chinook fishing on the Siletz.  Well, that meant not only were we going to lose our vacation, we were losing our deposit (no refunds).  Let’s add a little insult to injury.  I was sick.  It seemed like everything that was in our future was derailed.  But, this is not an elective procedure.  Do you want to survive?  Or die?

 

August 3, 2012:

I was to report to the Salem Hospital for surgery this morning at 6:30 a.m.  Wow, happy I was early surgery, but meant leaving our house at 5:30.  Got to the hospital and was promptly taken to prep room.  The nurses fluttered around and finished their checklist of prepping me.  Then off I want to the ultra sound department for placement of a “wire” they would place from the outside of the skin down to the tumor site.  The ultra sound guided the doctor and the wire was in place.  So I was now sporting a wire sticking out of my chest.  How cool.  Oh, and the same doctor injected a needle full of radioactive material into my breast.  This would flow through the lymph-nodes and underarm then disburse throughout my body.  Well, that doesn’t sound good.  But not to worry, the surgeon will have a little Geiger counter he will follow the radioactive material along the nodes to see if he needed to take any out.  I am not sure how that works, but it didn’t sound especially exciting.

Then after all that I was wheeled into the mammogram room where the technician gave me a quick mammogram to see that the wire was in the right place.  I was standing all alone in this unfamiliar room feeling very strange.  The technician then walked over to a vase of pink carnations and plucked one out and gave to me.  She then offered me a small handmade pillow made by the Hospital Ladies Auxiliary for breast cancer patients.  I was extremely touched and near tears.  How sweet.

Off to the surgery prep room again where Jim and I waited.  Time’s up.  Jim to the waiting room and I into surgery.  Onto the table and the anesthetist put a gas mask on my face and told me to hold it.  I did so.  She said okay take five deep breaths.  Well, I remember about 3 and out I was.  Two hours later I woke in recovery.  When I realized where I was, I was shocked the time had gone by so fast.  For the first time EVER in my surgical life, I was not deathly sick when I woke up.  I had talked to the anesthetist about getting very sick after surgery.  She said she could mix me a cocktail that would help with nausea.  Well, not only did it help, it cured any nausea or vomiting.  Wow, love her. 

The surgery nurse asked about pain levels and pumped me full of pain medications as I wished.  I was feeling no pain and they wheeled my happy self to the second recovery room.  I needed to do the following:  pee, drink some juice, and eat a cracker.  I had to pee something fierce so that was no problem and the moment I hit the easy chair in recovery I asked to use the facilities.  I walked to the room came back and had apple juice and crackers.  I was in this recovery less than an hour.  They allow two hours.  Get my husband in here.  I’m going home.

When Jim came around the curtain and looked at me, his face dropped a mile and his eyes were startled.  I thought what is the matter with that guy?  He sat down and didn’t say anything until the drive home.  Then I found out after the radioactive material goes throughout your body it turns your skin blue.  Now I was thinking Smurfs, but it wasn’t that bad.  But Jim, not knowing, came to me and I was a little blue.  He thought at the time I was dying, I guess.  But I was feeling fine.  We had a good laugh over that. 

I took the 45 minute drive home in stride without a bit of sickness.  Wow.

 

August 6, 2012:

All weekend I was feeling fine.  I was not sick a minute and I was dealing with some pain from surgery, but nothing a pain pill couldn’t fix.  I also was in a breast binder, which is a tight elastic tube-top thingy they put you in after surgery.  You don’t do any flopping around with that on. 

We had promised Darcy, Jon, and Raegan we would take them out to eat at the Casino for Darcy’s birthday today.  We met about 5 p.m. and we all tried a little of this and a little of that at the huge buffet.  I was not terribly hungry and had a small amount of prime rib and some mashed potatoes with gravy.  I had a couple of diet Pepsi’s and a little ice cream.  I didn’t eat a great amount of food when I started feeling a little bloated.  I quit eating and drank some soda.  The longer I sat there the worse I got to feeling.  I tried to be polite and not hurry anyone, but I was feeling pretty bad.  When we left, I literally ran to the car with Jim behind me.  I said I need to get home now.  I feel ill.

And ill I was….I had to throw up badly.  Before we got out of the parking lot I grabbed a paper grocery bag from the back and proceeded to eliminate half of what I had eaten.  Jim grabbed the paper towels and I stuffed them in the bag.  Three more times before I got home, I projectile vomited into that bag.  There was nothing left a half hour after I left the buffet.  It was all in the bag.  I have never vomited that fierce nor that much in my entire life.

What happened?  Not sure.  Maybe I had just saved up not getting sick after surgery into one last big hurrah.  But the good news was, after eating at the casino buffet, I lost two pounds.  Whew.

 

August 13, 2012

Medical Life on hold until doctor appointment with oncology surgeon 10 days after surgery.  On with life until today.  Back to Salem Cancer Institute for post-surgical appointment.  Very good news, Dr. Clarke said pathology tests show all surrounding tissue he took out with mass was clear of any cancer.  The two lymph nodes he took out under my arm were also clear.  He said as far as he was concerned I was good to go on to the next phase—medical oncology doctor.  I now had my four doctor team for the remainder of the journey—adding Dr. Strother. 

 

August 20, 2012

Back to Salem Cancer Institute oncology medicine—Dr. Strother.  He explained to us all the pathology test results and what we could expect from now on.  He said even though the tissue and nodes were clear, radiation was still on the schedule to “clean up” anything left behind in the breast tissue.  But before radiation, we could need to address pathology test that indicated the tumor was “aggressive” which would indicate chemotherapy before radiation.  We were shocked, we thought we were on the way to the end of treatment, not adding another layer.  I sat there and tried to imagine what I feared most—chemotherapy treatment.  There were four tests I had to pass that would allow me to bypass chemotherapy:  1) The mass was small; 2) The tissue and nodes were clear; 3) No cancer in family; and 4) Tumor was a low threat of returning elsewhere down the line by being very aggressive in its genetic makeup.  I passed all but the pathologist’s report that he felt tissue was aggressive in nature.

The doctor said there is another test that we could do before agreeing to chemo.  There is a company that will do a Oncotype DX Breast Test.  Oncotype DX is a unique diagnostic breast cancer test that looks at the activity of 21 different genes in a woman’s breast tumor tissue.  The test measures the chances of your specific breast cancer returning and the likelihood of you particularly benefiting from chemotherapy treatment.  The test costs several thousand dollars, is covered by my insurance, and takes 10 days to get back report.  Absolutely, go for it.  We should have word by August 31 on the grade of the tumor between 0-100 recurrence score and we can get on with our life.

So again we go into wait mode.  10 horrible days, each day waiting for the next.  After about 5 days of hand wringing, I finally reconciled in my mind that if after going through this test it is determined I need chemotherapy, I will do it.  I didn’t want to get sick, lose my hair, and delay the inevitable radiation treatments, but more than that, I did not want to have the cancer return. 

The end of August came and no word.  Now I am worried.  Why haven’t I heard anything?  Days 12, 13, and 14 were Labor Day weekend—no word.  These three days were the worst days of my Journey so far. 

 

September 4, 2012

At 10:00 a.m., I could wait no longer for the phone call.  I called the office, was told to leave a message which I did.  A few minutes later, the assistant called back to apologize but the test we all thought was going to the Genomic Health on the 20th, didn’t get sent off.  They realized this on August 31, the day I was supposed to get the results and it would be another 10 days before I would know anything.  I held on to the phone and heard the words, but I couldn’t talk.  But, but….and so forth.  I finally thanked them for calling me back and hung up. 

This was the first and only time I cried.  I sat in my chair and bawled.  I was so very disappointed.  Was this nightmare ever going to end?  So countdown to another 10 day wait.

 

September 13, 2012

I became pro-active to avoid another 10 days wait period and called the doctor’s office to see if they had any word on the test results.  Cheerfully, she said they did have the results and as soon as the doctor had time to analyze the results, he would call me.  I asked if that would be today.  She said absolutely.  She would make sure he called today.

And he did.  The absolute best news possible was given to us.  The tests graded the tumor at the low end of low risk.  Very low, very low risk and no chemo needed in fact it would be harmful for me to do chemotherapy.  Oh, and after radiation and 5 years of hormone therapy, he said the cure rate was 94%.  Wow, you couldn’t get any better than that.  We finally could get on with radiation treatment.  Finally!!

 

September 18, 2012

Another appointment with oncology radiologist.  They had a simulation set up for me.  They use a CAT scanner to scan the area to get the density of breast tissue and the best angles for radiation machine to attack.  There also was something I was laying on from shoulders up that the technician kept puffing up around my arms, neck and head.  I didn’t know quite what that was, but was to find out in another 10 days!!  And in this appointment, I received my tattoos.  The technician put tattoo dots on my center chest, left chest, right chest, and under my right breast.  Ouch.  I had no idea tattoos hurt that much.  I asked her if real tattoos hurt that much, she said these are real tattoos.  That dashed my idea of making a tattoo after this is all over.  Ouch!!  How can you do that?? 

 

September 27, 2012

Finally, my first radiation therapy day!!  I thought it would never come.  I was escorted into the women’s gown waiting area.  I got a locker, a key, and a beautiful hospital gown.  Then you go sit in the waiting area and wait for technicians to come get you.  Several other women were gathered in a group talking about all kinds of things.  These were women in various states of therapy.  Some were fresh out of chemotherapy and starting radiation and some had hair growing back from chemo and were in final stages of radiation.  They obviously had become a little clique and were a nice support group for each other.  I was an outsider and felt a little uncomfortable.  But soon I was escorted into the “room.” 

Before the room, I was taken to the control panel that reminded me of the Starship Enterprise control room.  I was looking around for Captain Kirk, or Spock.  I really didn’t have any idea what to expect of the room, the machine, or anything else.  The techs were wonderful and tried to make me as comfortable as possible.  I was first given the times of my appointments for the next 6 weeks.  They bounced all over the morning for three weeks, then settled down weeks 4-6 to the same time every day.  Each time I went into the room, I was to identify my picture, my birthdate, and my name.  Two or three other techs repeated the information.  They then took me past a door that was a foot thick with lead and down a short hallway.  Into the room I went and there hanging from a rod across the room and also laying on the table where I was to lay for the treatment several green “forms” –the one that is formed to your body in the CT scan.

So I lay on my back on the table and put my head and shoulders in the form.  I then was instructed to put my arms above my head and hang on to handles to get my upper arms to lay in the form.  That way I was pretty locked into my position and wouldn’t move.  A few tweaks of my hips, little green lights intersecting my tattoos and I was ready for my first treatment.  I was being treated from a shot a little to the left and then all the way on the right and up from my back.  The machine is awesome.  All I can do is describe it as a scene from Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds.  There was a giant machine behind me and the only thing I could actually see was this round thing above my head several feet in diameter.  As the techs cleared out of the room, they went back to the Starship control room and everything else was done by remote control. 

So there I was with this round thing moving to my left, angled a little, then a whirling noise.  About 10 seconds of actual radiation.  Then it moved up over my head and went down so far on my right I could only see the tip-top of the round instrument.  Another 10 seconds of treatment and the machine came back up over my head.

By the time the machine had found home, the techs were back in the room instructing me to lower my arms and put back on my gown.  They helped me rise from the hard slab I was on and that was it.  I walked out, got dressed, and went home to come back the next day.

So it took us 45 minutes to drive to the hospital, 5 minutes to wait, and 45 minutes to drive home.  30 seconds for actual treatment.  Pretty awesome.

 

October 2, 2012

Day Four.  I dressed in my gown and waited for my call back to treatment.  I felt my first sensation of pain in my breast.  I wasn’t sure if it was just residual surgery pain or caused by radiation, but it seemed a little early on for radiation pain.  You are given a nice first aid cream to use on the entire area 2 times a day.  I did that religiously.  I had a little pink showing, but not bad.  Everyone has warned me that as the weeks go by, there will be reddening and even peeling possible.  Also, fatigue was a problem.  The radiation is the same radiation you get from the sun and some may relate the fatigue with being out in the sun all day and how tired you feel after.  That would be every day for me at some point.  So far, nothing.

October 3, 2012

Day Five.  When I arrived at the gown waiting area, there were several ladies waiting to go into the treatment rooms.  One went in and came out a few minutes later.  Her arm was straight out and she was in obvious pain.  She couldn’t put her arm down because of the pain.  She sat down before getting dressed to rest and in the process exposed a small part of her breast being treated.  OMG.  I got a shock of my future.  Her skin was so raw and red it looked like she fell off a bike and skidded her skin on the concrete.  She was in obvious pain.  I felt light-headed.  There you are, Dawn.  That is coming up for you too.  That scene bothered me for the entire day, that evening, and even as I went to bed that night.  I was in shock and I couldn’t shake the horror I felt.  It’s coming for you!!

 

October 5, 2012

Day Seven.  A treatment and the weekly Friday appointment with the doctor.  Everything looks good and off I went.  Getting into a routine now.  Just counting the days left.

Continued:

October 8, 2012

Day 8 of 30.  After a weekend off, I'm back to radiation treatments.  So many things are going through my head.  I have so many questions.  I am so paranoid about getting sunburns or going outside without SPF 60 on and skin cancer, how can shooting all this radiation at my skin be good for it?  Will I eventually get skin cancer from all this?  Supposedly, the radiation kills all the cancer cells.  It just feels creepy.  I grew up with nuclear bombs ready to go off overhead at any minute.  In elementary school we used to practice drills that would save us from a bomb blast by curling up under our desks.  Yeah, that would do a lot of good.  Radiation exposure has always been very bad.  How do I reconcille this with my past?

I went into Staples after treatment today for some supplies.  The store was really warm and I was having a hot flash.  I was trying to check out at the cashier and I was on the verge of passing out.  I don't know what happened, I have never felt like this before.  I couldn't wait to get out of the store and into the cool breezes.  I can only attribute it to possible side-effects of my radiation treatment. 

I am suppose to rest a lot.  I guess I better get used to going at half-speed instead of full steam ahead. 

October 10, 2012

Day 10 of 30.  Seems like time is moving pretty slowly.  Another treatment and a quick stop at Dick's Sporting Goods.  Another interrupted trip as I felt the same feeling come over me as at Staples.  I decided maybe I need to drink more water after treatment.  I will try that and tackle Costco tomorrow after treatment.  Ladies in waiting area opened up to me some and we spoke briefly.  Mainly about the color of my shoes.  Bright green one day, bright yellow the next, and bright red the next day.  My time will change tomorrow to 9:10.  Probably won't see these same women until next week.

There was a problem with the machine as I lay with my arms over my head in a very unnatural position.  A good ten minutes rendered my shoulder joints almost useless.  Ouch.  But, tomorrow is another day.  Still feeling myself around the different emotions, aches and pains, and complete disruption of my life.

And I thought of some more concerns about using radiation.  Does it damage internal organs?  Does it damage bones?  The bone thing I know.  Doctor said after treatment your chest bones and ribs will be subject to breaking if you are in an auto accident and seat belt snaps into place.  Yikes.

And I think the nurse bluntly put it to me when she said to use the first aid cream on your front area and also look at your back.  "What goes through the front, comes out the back."  That pretty well sums that up.  I took cold water and a cold apple to treatment today.  I chugged about 6 ounces of water in car after appointment and ate a cold apple.  I did not "hit the wall" today.  Maybe I've found the solution.

Went into Dallas to go with Jon and family to Pumpkin Patch this afternoon.  Raegan had a really good time running, sliding, and trying out new things.  Darcy picked out a really nice pumpkin.  Had a stalk like we've never seen.  Very thick and spooky.  We are calling it The Stalker.  To Abby's for dinner and home for Debate.  I don't know what happened to half-speed, but I can't stop running.

Found out son, Dave, was promoted to Fire Chief.  Wow.  How proud we are of him.  He will do good.  He has spent most of his adult life in the fire service.  Congratulations.

October 12, 2012

Day 12 of 30.  Another day into Salem.  I'm glad it is Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend off and do nothing.  Friday visit with doctor.  He looked at my ever reddening skin and said I am about average for this time in treatmet and show no signs of having a reaction to the radiation.  I should be able to complete my treatments.  Nurse gave me a supply of cool gel packs to put on chest for some relief.  Getting pretty hot.  Think bad sunburn.  Putting first aid cream on area 3 times a day now.  Doctor said the last week will zero in on area of tumor and let the rest of the breast start to heal.  That is the week where I guess I've seen other women show really raw skin.  Can hardly wait!!

Rains have returned to Oregon.  We had our first fire in wood stove today.  Felt really good.  Very wet and clouds were sitting right on top of our house.  A good day to rest.  Watched a 2 1/2 hour movie War Horse tonight.  A good way to take my mind off my troubles.  They seem really small compared to what the horse Joey went through in the movie. 

October 13, 2012

Finally got to sleep in this morning until 6:30!!  Something I have been looking forward to for months.  Slept pretty good last night.  Partly rainy today.  I totally missed Fox and Friends this morning because I slept in.  Sorry about that.  Feels funny to not have anything to do today.  Just regular house cleaning, wash sheets, wash clothes, boring stuff but stuff that needs done.

October 15, 2012

I think I have the formula for energy.  After treatment I chugged 8 ounces of water, and a cold apple, and I have energy to burn today.  It was a good day at treatment today also.  In and out so quickly.  Went to Fred Meyer for shopping and even after all day running full bore, I have energy to burn this evening.  I even made a turkey roast and a thanksgiving dinner for our meal tonight.  If that didn't take me out, nothing will. 

Well, time to go read some and lights out.  I feel good and will go with that.  Don't overthink feeling good. 

October 16, 2012

Day 14 of 30.  Almost half-way there.  Another high-energy day.  As I was being fitted for treatment today, my technician asked how I was feeling.  I said "Great."  He asked if I was feeling tired.  "No," I said.  "In fact I have excess energy and feeling fine."  With a smile he said maybe I'm one of those who thrive on radiation like Spiderman or Superman.  I'm sure. 

Another 8 oz of water and a cold apple in the car and hit Walmart Super Store and Roth's on the way home.  Went to the bank, off to visit son, Jon's, new house, out to lunch, and home. 

Left-over turkey and assessories tonight.  An easy and productive day. 

The only thing I am having nighmares about is our gasoline expenditures.  I added up September = $530.  Already in October = $300.  I am so glad we waited until the price of gas was $4.00 before we started treatment.
:(( 

October 17, 2012

DAY 15 OF 30.  Hurray.  The treatments are half over.  It's downhill from here.  Gads, it seems like the 15 days have been 15 years.  Every day up early, shower, drive to Salem, treatment, and drive back.  If we lived 5 minutes from the hospital, it might be different, but it is a major event for us to drive this every day. 

I'm not complaining because it is a procedure that is suppose to save my life.  It is a treatment that, along with hormone therapy, will give me a 94% cure.  I keep that one sentence in my head constantly.  Well, yes, I am complaining.  But the end of treatment is in sight..at least closer than 15 treatments ago.  I noticed today my skin is reddening up quite a bit more.  But my energy level is still higher than I had imagined.  My cold water chug and cold apple on the way to Dallas today to help son, Jon, and his family move--played with Raegan in their backyard my being one side of a teeter-totter until I thought my back would break.  I had forgotten when a two-year old is really having fun, they NEVER want to quit.  Where is the ibuprofen???  Off for a fun pizza lunch with all the movers and home to rest.  Where did that ibuprofen go???

October 18, 2012

DAY 16 of 30.  In honor of my half-way point, Jim surprised me by taking us out to breakfast while in Salem.  He is such a sweetie.  My skin is really reddening up and now is very tender to touch.  One more day this week and my skin can rest and heal a bit this weekend.  Also looking forward to sleeping in a bit.  I woke up at 4:15 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep so just got up.  I still have more energy that I should have and can't nap.  That was a big deal going in--that I would be really zapped out and a lot of patients take naps to get through the day.  Maybe there is something wrong with me or maybe it is yet to come or maybe I really am Superman or Spiderman!  But, I'm taking one day at a time and not complaining that I have energy to spare.

October 19, 2012

Day 17 of 30.  Sounds really good.  Only 2 1/2 calendar weeks to go.  That sounds a lot better than 6 weeks.

Skin reddening and turning tan in spots.  Hot as a pistol but tolerable.  Energy still high, shopped three stores then off to Jon's with house warming gifts.  Home to rest for the weekend.  Really enjoying the two days off.

I will say again--if you are ever feeling bad about yourself or your lousy life, spend a couple of hours in the waiting room of Oncology Radiology.  You will see first hand the great amount of pain and suffering people are going through everyday.  Makes you feel better about how bad life is treating you.  You should be thankful everyday you are pain-and/or cancer-free.


October 22, 2012

Day 18 of 30.  Very soon I will be in the Day 20s.  That is going to sound so good.  It was nice to have 2 days off from the treatment.  Heals the soul as well as the body to be away from the scene for even a little while.

I drank my cold water and cold apple in the car and was able to shop three stores again today.  High energy.  I did speak to my doctor about the high energy level and he seemed very surprised.  He asked if I was taking any supplements.  No, just vitamins--then I got what he was asking--oh and no, no uppers!. 

Technicians and I are talking about the end of treatment-- the final days!!  Sounds exciting.  Except for those last 5 days--sounds pretty scarey--they "zero" in on area of surgical removal of tumor.  My stomach feels butterflies when I think about it.  Scarey.  But, so far I am amazed at what I thought was going to be so bad, hasn't really been very bad at all.  Easy for me to say in the final 12 days.  I think so far I have been just very lucky.

October 24, 2012

Day 20 of 30.  THE COUNDOWN BEGINS---10 more treatments to go.  Wow, I am actually very excited.  The unofficial last day of treatment is November 7.  November 1 is the day the treatment changes to zero in and lasts for the last 5 treatment days.  I am still not sure how I will react to this narrowing, but I think my body has reacted wonderfully so far, so I should be able to suck it in for five final treatments even if they are worse than all combined. 

My talented hairdresser, Denice, cut my hair shorter for the last couple of weeks.  Walking from car to building every day in the rain has made me really drippy.  I now have a shorter, spunkier, easier to keep hair do.  Thanks Denice.

October 25, 2012

more treatments!! I got my "change over" appointment and it is what I thought--November 1 I go for a little longer appointment to get set to the target radiation and do that for the final 5 days.  I noticed in the dressing room my skin is really, really red.  I am putting first aid cream on three times a day.  It doesn't hurt much, but really red.

I am pretty pumped..on the last leg of this journey. 

October 26, 2012

more treatments!!  On Fridays I see the doctor.  Today the doctor walks into the room and asks, "How are you?"  I said, "good."  He smiled and said, "You are my favorite patient."  I said, "Because I'm always good?"  "Yes." He answered.

That made me feel pretty good.  But, I am honest when I say I do feel good.  I don't know why--I'm not going to overthink it--just go with it.  We talked about the change in radiation site starting Thursday.  He will zero in on scar and about an inch around the scar.  About an area the size of a billard ball. 

Two days off for R & R.  It is going to rain all weekend so I am planning to pay bills, do payroll, and finish editing my damn book.  I figured out between the gasoline to truck me to my appointments every day and what I am going to be left to pay after insurance--I will not have the money to spend to publish a hard copy of my new book, so will put on Amazon Kindle ebook for now.  I will debut it exclusively on Amazon which is a free service for me.  Maybe some day, I will have the money to publish a hard copy.

Enjoy your soggy weekend.

October 29, 2012

7 more treatments!!  This weekend my entire breast area has now passed bright red and is officially dark, dark brown with red edges.  If I had a turkey Tender Timer in me, it would be popping out right now.  Thank heavens I only have two more treatments on the entire area before they reduce the field on Thursday.  I will grin and bear it until then.

Our gasoline bill for September and October officially went over $1,000.  I guess I will need to have a bake sale or something.  At least for now, gas has dropped about 40 cents a gallon at Costco.  Thank heavens for small favors.

I am going to take all my technicians a jack-o-lantern full of candy tomorrow with a thank you note.  Everyone has been very, very nice and a pleasure to be around.

October 30, 2012

6 more treatments.!!  Only one more regular treatment then five treatments zeroing in on scar area.  Two new women starting their journey today in gown waiting area.  One was on her day six and one on day two.  Wow, was so happy to say I was on day 24. 

Rained all day, sometimes very hard.  A good day to stay in, rest, and catch up on watching some shows recorded on DVR.  I have been burned so many times by watching shows only to have them cancelled half-way through the season or with just a few shows left.  I don't watch any new show until they have at least 4 shows recorded on DVR.  I refuse to get invested in another new show without knowing it will be around for the whole season.

I also have an opportunity to get rid of ones that look good but are crap.  I have already watched one and deleted the series.  My time is too precious to waste it watching crap.

Got my website here updated to include new book The Haunting of Muriel Trevenard.  You can access by clicking on the tab on top of home page.  Happy reading.

October 31, 2012

5 more treatments!!  Down to the home stretch.  Tomorrow I start the final five treatments reduced down to the scar area only.  It has been quite a journey, but the finish line is just ahead.  I will NOT miss the daily trek into Salem and NOT miss having my breast cooked every day.

I WILL enjoy getting back the half day I have lost for six weeks.  I WILL enjoy starting the healing process on my body as well as on my soul.  I WILL enjoy not having my whole day deflected by constantly thinking of the next day and the next treatment.  I WILL enjoy the idea we can start making plans for the future again. 

Happy Halloween.

November 1, 2012

4 more treatments!!  This was the first day of my final five treatments and the reduction in the radiation field.  So that means I had to lay in my uncomfortable position for about 20 minutes instead of just a couple to have several x-rays taken then approved by doctor.  Ouch.  I am very happy the reduction is happening as sores are starting to show up.  But just as they are coming out, the field is being reduced to just two small rectangles.  So the rest of the skin can start to heal.

One scarey thing is all the treatments so far have been at two angles.  Now one of the two final treatments goes right straight down into the scar and into the rest of my body (lungs) and out the back, as the nurse told me earlier.  I worry, but I guess it is common.

I am forever thankful I am able to think about healing and getting well.  So many others I see every day are hanging on by a thread.  All prayers sent my way have been thankful and I will be okay.  So I'm starting to send my prayers for all those I see who are suffering so much.  I don't know their names, but God knows.

Amen.

November 2, 2012

3 more treatments!!!  Winding down today.  After treatment, saw radiation oncology doctor for the last time during this phase.  On Wednesday, MY LAST TREATMENT DAY, I will be making a follow-up appointment with this doctor to see him in one month.  Then annual appointments for five years.  He is handing me off to my medical oncologist with whom I have an appointment next Wednesday to start hormone treatment. 

So the plays are almost done, the hand-off almost complete, then it is good-bye to radiation (hopefully for the rest of my life).  As happy as I am to be on the waning days of this part of my journey, I feel a little loss.  As weird as it sounds, I will miss seeing my technicians and others who are along their own journey.  I will also miss the time Jim and I have had together.  He has been so super supportive and been with me every second of every treatment.  Would he rather have been fishing or something else?  Probably, but he chose to be with me and I am grateful. 

Thanks, Jim.

November 5, 2012

I am soooo bummed today.  We were in the truck heading to Salem for my treatment and I get a cell phone call.  The machine has broken down and they want to cancel my appointment and add on to end of my treatment dates.  That would be Thursday.  Talk about depressed.  I have so been looking forward to Wednesday hoping every day I don't get sick and have to cancel any days and wanting very much to get on with the rest of my life.  Then here comes the bump. 

I asked if they got the machine going could they work me into this afternoon.  Yeah, they took the information and will call if they can do that.  Don't think that is ever going to happen.  I am trying not to cry but I was so close to the end.

Crap.

P.S.  After resigning myself to the fact I wasn't going in today, the Hospital called at 3:00 p.m. and said the machine was ready could I come in as soon as I could get there.  We flew like the wind and made it through the afternoon Salem traffic, parked, and walked (ran) to the building.  I drove there, got right in, right out, and back to the car in one hour flat.  Record time.  Back on schedule now with Wednesday my last day.  Back to 2 treatments!!

WooHoo!!!

November 6, 2012

1 more treatment.  Tomorrow one treatment, a visit to my medical oncologist to start hormone treatment, and then hopefully I am done for awhile anyway.  But good news--radiation OVER.

We have decided to go to Original Pancake House for a special celebration breakfast. 

I will, however, hold my breath until 8:30 tomorrow morning.  Then after that I can breathe again. 

Happy Election Day.  I hope it turns out like you wanted.

November 7, 2012

NO MORE TREATMENTS!!  That sounds so good.  Total gasoline bill for September-November 7 = $1,131.  Yikes!!

After final radiation treatment and hugs all around I saw radiologist and medical oncologist.  I have my prescription for hormone treatment pills.  They drive down estrogen to where you basically have none.  The doctor is pretty sure the very bad hot flashes they cause will be over by summer.  How reassuring.  I start on the pills after Thanksgiving.  At least one holiday get-to-gether before I need to be sitting outside in the freezing cold during family dinners.

The emotions vary today.  So glad to be done--but will miss the terrific people I met.  But I can't help but smile. 

And in the morning, I intend to sleep in.  Then we have four days before we go into town to church on Sunday.  I plan on spending them going through to-do piles and not driving anywhere.  At least that is the plan.

Then the next four weeks I concentrate on healing--planning on what to take to Jon and Darcy's for Thanksgiving--and enjoying the freedom I was given today.

In four weeks, I check in with radiology to see how I'm healing and then my next doctor appointment is next May!!  I will continue my blog on my journey as I start my hormone treatment.  There are a number of side-effects (none of them especially nice) and will report as necessary.  I take the pills every day for five years.  My doctor appointments will be every six months for five years.

If you jump off my blog here, I thank you for reading whatever you were interested in.  I don't expect that anyone will be thinking about me and my journey for the next five years but I will add to this blog as necessary.

I feel very fortunate to have come through all I have with relative ease.  So many people are so much worse off.  But take my word for it, you will have a much better chance of surviving with early detection.  And, ladies, if you are on Premarin, I would get off now.  Those are my pearly wisdoms for today.  Thank you again and goodnight.

Dawn Meier, Cancer Survivor 2012
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