Attitude check

Stuart Scott of ESPN died of cancer of the appendix after battling it since 2007. I didn’t realize he was from my current hometown of Winston-Salem. I’ve been reading about him and I just love his attitude toward his cancer. Reading about him and his attitude toward his disease has really helped me, as I’ve been a bit frustrated lately and controlling my own attitude at times has been precarious.

Many people are all about exclaiming and celebrating that my chemo is over, and it’s difficult for me sometimes to join in because:

-I have been dealing with another abscess in a delicate place, which will likely eventually require a small surgery to ensure it is not recurring

-I am about to start preventative hormone therapy that will involve induced early menopause, lots of medical appointments for 5 years, and potentially a bunch of unpleasant side effects

-The side effects and cumulative toll of the chemo are still very much present and impacting me every day. And while I had been able to, remarkably, ride my horse quite well throughout this and even compete a little, well, the chemo has caught up with me. My stamina is greatly reduced, and I have had some very difficult rides lately where I get very tired or weak.

So, hearing all these, “yay, chemo is over” comments ring a little hollow and make me ever so slightly bitter because I want to be feeling better and moving on with life, but have been really feeling like I just keep stumbling over yet another thing from my cancer.

So it was good to read this from a speech Stuart gave: “When you die, that doesn’t mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.”

Stuart was diagnosed in 2007 during an emergency appendectomy and apparently went through many, many treatment approaches. He was heavily involved in martial arts and said the workouts helped him.

According to The New York Times, “To stay in shape, he endured exhausting mixed-martial-arts and cross-training workouts, sometimes right after chemotherapy treatments.”

“‘For the mind, it’s better than any chemo,’ Scott told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ early in 2014. ‘It’s better than any medicine.'”

And so, I am tired and basically bleeding from my bottom and I have a slew of medical appointments coming up. I can barely jump a full course of jumps on my horse, and have pretty much decided to delay my plans to return to competition for at least a month. But it’s true, I’m on the mend and nothing else I am facing should be as much of a nightmare as the chemo was.

So I will keep taking my traditional medicinal treatments, and even when I’m tired or when my stamina is just plain gone for the day, I will keep getting on the horse (ha!). Because nothing lifts my spirit more than this amazing animal. It’s unreal, and I’m so grateful for him.

More about Stuart Scott here.

And my sweet Lucky Alex bundled against the rain the other day.

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Update: a comment from a friend who also recently completed chemo for breast cancer: “I, too, had fooled myself in to thinking that I would be skipping out of chemo back to my pre-cancer life. It is hard to explain the joint pain and fatigue.”

Just paranoia? Nope. Just a ‘fluid pocket’? Nope.

More gross stuff.

I was in pain this morning, and it was very similar to when I had an abscess after my first chemo. Thinking I was just being paranoid, I called my GI surgeon. They got me right in this afternoon. The doctor thought at first it was just a little fluid and offered an aggressive option of in-office draining, or sending me home with preventative antibiotics and hoping it would resolve.

I decided to have it drained, which involved some lidocaine at first. The doctor kept exclaiming how much fluid came out (“it took an entire pack of 4×4 gauze to absorb it!”) and also declared it to be a bigger infection than initially suspected. So. It was good that we drained it. It being, apparently, another full blown abscess. Oh yeah, the lidocaine wore off partway through the procedure. Some previous genetic testing had revealed I am a fast metabolizer of pain medicine, and if there is a “next time,” I am to receive a lot more lidocaine. Great. Makes me think back to all the pain I experienced during my biopsies during my cancer diagnosis.

I can’t have this fistula repaired until I’m long done with chemo (I had my last treatment Dec. 19, but the side effects are still raging). Still, I have had considerable fatigue the last few days, and I am kind of relieved to know that this infection likely played a considerable role. Because honestly, the fatigue level was starting to make me angry and frustrated.

Best news of all this: I can still ride my horse whenever I want. Special thanks to Ms. NH for riding Lucky Alex tonight — he needs to stay fit as we get ready for the new show season! Because this evening, I’m going to pop a couple percocet and get some rest.

I’m seriously fed up with medical stuff. I need a vacation. Except I have to go to Duke like every month in 2015 for my next phase of breast cancer treatment, and I will need to have this fistula addressed (outpatient surgery), and I have to have my benign adrenal mass investigated (also at Duke). I have 3 medical appointments in the first 5 weeks of 2015. But then I think of my breast cancer sisters who are doing more chemo than me, and/or 6 weeks of daily radiation treatment. And I know I am fortunate. I have a great treatment plan, a great medical team, and I am in pretty darn good physical shape (getting ready to move up a division in jumping — aka bigger jumps! — and could return to the show ring either this month or next month). My fear was that I would be an atrophied, nearly bed-ridden exhausted and disfigured mess at this time. And I’m not even close to that.

But seriously, I am tired of all this literal pain in the ass medical BS. Given that I have relinquished every one of my vices, including wine, I think I have totally earned my oncoming opiode high. Bring on the Percocet.

Abscess paranoia continues

In the exam room at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital waiting to see my GI surgeon’s resident since I have a tiny mild fever and increasing pain symptomatic of another abscess. Or symptomatic of paranoia. I have been exhausted lately. Sure, I had my last chemo Dec. 19, but I will continue to feel sick for another couple months at least. I’m kind of fed up.

Will post updates. They told me not to eat (too late), so maybe I’ll be having some scans.

All done with chemo!

Chemo #4 is all done! So glad I only had to do 4. Now just a few weeks of awful side effects. I should be feeling much better within 2 months and most of the chemo will be out of my system in 6 months.

I’ll be back at Duke a lot in the coming months as I start my next treatment phase: hormone therapy and induced menopause for 5+ years. More on that later.

Chemo #4 Live Blog: Good Morning!

Good morning! I have my last chemo today. My friend Madelyn is taking me. AND she went shopping last night to pack our food for the day, so I could have one last jumping lesson on my horse before the major fatigue and bone pain set in.

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‘Are we done yet, Mom? Can I have a cookie now? Look at me doing my neck stretch all by myself.’

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The morning wake up crew. Who needs to shower when Miss Violet is on duty?

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