Recent Cancer-related FAQs
Lately I’ve been asked the following questions by a few different people. I thought others might be wondering too…
Um, you look great. Do you still have cancer?
Thanks! And, yes.
I have metastatic disease, or Stage IV breast cancer, or whatever you want to call it. Dr. Wonderful is very clear in letting me know that whilst I can hope to be his patient for a very long time, I will be under the care of an oncologist for the rest of my days. If I am to be cancer free, that will be a miracle from God.
Do you have any side effects from your current treatments?
I don’t have any direct side effects from the three drugs I get at the oncology office. (Perjeta and Herceptin every 3 weeks, and Faslodex every 4 weeks.) I *love* these drugs and hope I get to be on them for a long time!
I do have a lot of side effects from past cancer/treatment, most of which I’ve acclimated into my normal life: hot flashes, breast-less-ness, skin sensitivity, etc.
The one thing that bugs me consistently are my toes and toenails. I keep getting ingrown toenails, losing a particular toenail, fungus, and infections. Gross, I know. (Sometimes I ask myself, “Why do I feel so compelled to overshare these details on the internet???”) I had minor surgery last week on one toe, and am going in this week for a different toe. You can pray for my toes. However, if I had to choose one medical specialty for whom to be high maintenance (oncology, pulmonology, endocrinology, surgery, cardiology, or podiatry), I would absolutely choose the podiatrist. Feet, shmeet. I can handle this.
So, ah, this is awkward, but do you plan on doing breast reconstruction?
An interesting point about breast reconstruction that is not intuitive is that reconstruction is very different from a “boob job.” At the end of reconstructive surgery you end up with numb mounds where your breasts used to be. You don’t get back what you lost.
I’ve looked into the options enough to know which procedure I would do if I got it done. I’d go for the deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap surgery. Since that is an unintelligible mouthful for most of us, I coined it the “whoop-dee-doo” surgery because the surgeon takes my “baby roll”, and moves it “up.” This microsurgical procedure is cutting edge: it’s all my tissue and the net effect is a tummy-tuck turned breasts. Like I said, whoop-dee-doo. Magic. It sounds pretty great. However, at this time, I don’t want another surgery/hospitalization. I’m busy living and momming my kids; I don’t want time away from them.
How are the girls handling cancer?
Oh, my girls. I love them so much. They’re awesome. Neither of them remember life before cancer. This past fall Maren had an Ah Ha Moment where she understood cancer and me and Stage IV and the whole deal. I’m very Mama Bear protective over them, and it is a constant lesson to me to continue to hold them in my hands and raise them up to the Lord. They are His children. Greta gets a simplified version of the truth. Maren gets the truth with a lot of prayer and attention to how we address it.
What does palooza-ing (from your last blog) really mean?
Stay tuned; I have a blog brewing on this where I’m listing out my paloozy thoughts.
Sometimes I want to scream that I am normal because the blessed perspective that I keep is hard-won; I’m normal, and this is not easy. The cancer burden is one that I shift from shoulder to shoulder; I change posture and position to absorb the strain. It’s hard, people. But… it is okay; praise the Lord, I have the strength to do it. He has given me the strength to do it.
The cancer, my cancer, is cruelly craptacular.
Palooza living is the counter-balance to cancer living.
It’s bucket list-y, dreaming, living-in-the-moment, adventuring, saying yes, and living out loud.
Feel free to ask any other questions…