Monday, March 7, 2011

Where Have I Been? Second Edition March 7, 2011

Hello dear family and friends,

Although I didn't intend to stop writing to let you know how things are going, it's actually somewhat of a good sign that it's been so busy that I haven't had time to sit down to do this.  I just finished reading the blog of a friend of a friend who has lung cancer and the light went on...I should write to you all!  My apologies for the giant gap in communication.

So here I am, actually feeling quite well.  Hooray!  About mid-January, I stopped needing a nap most every day.  Better yet, near the end of February I got a clear mammogram and ultrasound (I call them 1/2 mammo and 1/2 ultrasound, since there is only one side now.  Not half price, however).  Also had lab work done and am no longer anemic - yeah!  That's where the energy is coming from.  My radiation oncologist says my skin is fine.  And, I finally got this lousy cough diagnosed (recurrence of asthma, coughing since October) and am on meds to treat.  It's much better!

That's the health stuff - every thing's looking good and I'm feeling better.  Here's what's still recovering from the slash, poison, burn regime of 2010: easily tiring, low appetite and strange tastebuds (have now lost 30+ pounds and have about 10 to go), fingernails that are still recovering from chemo (ugly) and peripheral neuropathy mainly in feet and right fingers.  I'm told the neuropathy may or may not go away (it's from chemo, too), but my left fingers are much better so I have hope that all will gradually recede.

BTW:  I have hair on my head (and most other places which I could have done without).  I didn't get either of my two wishes:  I wanted color any color, but it's white again/still.  I wanted curls and so far it's a combination of straight and wavy.  It's only 3/4 of an inch long, so maybe other changes will come...the bottomline is whatever color or texture, I'm glad to have hair again.

Jim and I took a few days in late January to go to Hawaii.  We really took it easy - mostly because of my energy level - and did virtually nothing but laze around.  I discovered that a mai tai every day was delicious and by the end of a few days I was able to finish a whole Jim's dismay!  The sun was  good, good, good - we were so in need of warm, lazy days.  It was perfect. 

Since Hawaii, we've had two one-day retreats at the Requa Inn in Klamath.  It's about 25 minutes from home and we've loved the super comfortable river view rooms and most excellent food prepared for the winemakers' dinners.  We highly recommend this wonderful Inn - even if you live nearby as we do.  It is very casual, peaceful and run by our wonderful friends who take great care of every guest.

We have our minds on travel, as you can see.  We felt very deprived last year and are hoping for several small and larger trips this year.  At this time, we have another Requa Inn overnight planned and almost a month in England and surrounds planned for June.  Can't wait!

In between travel for medical check-ups and fun, Jim and I are working, dealing with the never-ending rain (actually a good thing), enjoying our house and thinking about yard work and gardens soon to come.  I feel so glad to be through treatments and grateful that healing is happening. 

A group of wonderful women gathered me in through this last year - they all walked the same path with breast cancer and  shared many war stories and laughs as they helped me along.  Now, there is a new member of our group (the club no one ever asked to be a member of) starting her journey...and we are beginning the process of holding and supporting her along the way.   I want to do for her what the others did for me - among other things, each woman has reminded me that getting through the treatments is possible and that surviving/thriving happens. 

An amazing thing - When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, suddenly women that I've known (or not) came forward to say "I had breast cancer too."  Twenty years ago, eleven years ago, five years ago, last year.  I never knew there were so many of us quietly going about life.  There is a sisterhood out there and they came forward quietly to say "how can I help?"  Believe me, just knowing you are there helps!  And, so many people gave the same love, information and support to Jim, too.  It was all really important.

I hope you too are looking forward to Spring as we are.  I hope you are well, that your families and friends are well.  And, I hope you get your sunny, warm, lazy days in whatever fashion you prefer them.

I will try not to be so long between posts.  I do love hearing from you all.


  1. Susan,
    I love reading your blog. I am a little ahead of you as I did not have the same treatment regiment as you did, but I can certainly relate to the the ugly finger nails and the awful neuropathy. My oncologist is trying me on something new as of today and I will let you know if it makes a difference. I'm only the 2nd one she has tried it on. It is for hot flashes(induced by Arimidex) but apparently helps with neuropathy as well. I have a hard time at night going to sleep. I will keep you posted. I am so glad to hear you are traveling and having some respite and fun.....keep it up.

  2. Susan, I found the blog so very touching and had to get out the kleenex and I read about the newest member of the group...I certainly have been surrounded my sisters and there is nothing to describe how truely touched I feel. I do know that if it is in the cards to get breast cancer, I was certainly the luckiest woman I know. It was found early, estrogen positive and HERS2 negative. Last week I received the results from my second surgery since Christmas and I am now cancer free. I still can't get over the feeling that is is lurking in some other body part or organ, but I would imagine that is quite normal.

    Tomorrow my husband Kees and I will meet with the oncologist and the radiologist to set up my radiation treatment. For me the end of the "wait and see what is next" part of this journey may finally have a date. I am a planner and organizer, definately. These last few months have weighed heavily and I am actually looking forward to taking a leave of absence from work and just deal with the daily treks to Eureka.

    Susan, again thank you for paving the way for me and so many other women who are recovering, are on the journey or haven't found out yet they will have to take the journey. You have helped me see what a positive person I can be.

  3. So glad you are doing this good. And I am so happy for you two could even managed time to have some mini vocations.

    And since my Mom's two best friends both went through such journey, I totally understand what you said about the secret sisterhood between a group of loving caring women. And please consider to come down SF for Avon walk. I was there once as a photographer and it's a very powerful event. (at July 9th)

    Here is the link.

    xoxo send my love to Jim too. I thought about you both a lot!


  4. We are so glad to hear from you & to hear you are getting better & survived your journey. Keep up the good work.

  5. I always read your blog with great interest. You have as wonderful a way with the written word as you do with the oral delivery method. Thank you for pulling the energy out of yourself to share so much.