Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day today.  I wish I could give my Mommy a gift today, but I will be sending her a package soon with some old family photos and a surprise!  Myself.. I received a bleeding heart plant, solar lights, a gift card and flowers and a cake! 
I was feeling pretty depressed and sorry for myself yesterday.  I didn't go to the Mother's Day tea at church because I just didn't feel like sitting around and smiling and trying to be happy.  I will go to church today and be happy there.  Maybe during the sermon we can get the bigger kids outside to start the garden.  I will see who is in charge of the class today and ask them.  Or we can do it after during fellowship.  Need to get those seeds in the ground soon! 
I am having a hard time dealing with being bald.  I am having a hard time dealing with only having one breast.  I feel very self conscious.  I try to project a positive appearance on the outside but inside I'm cringing.  Not that I'm a supermodel to begin with but I don't want people to look at me and feel sorry for me.  I have been getting the pity smile occasionally in public.  I just smile back and go on my way.  No one asks questions.  I just had one lady approach me out of the blue and tell me to stop by her spa and get some cooling gel for when I start chemo!  I haven't worn my wig.  I feel like that will make me stand out even more.  It is too tight anyhow.  I am supposed to go to look good feel good at the Cancer center on Monday and I will take it with me and see if they can fix it.  I'm hoping to get a prosthesis soon too.  Waiting for insurance approval.  Those light weight puffs don't cut it.  I look lopsided!  Maybe I can put a rock in it!  LOL  Anyhow I am trying to enjoy spring and my birds and the sunshine.  Blessings to all!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Been a little lax in journaling here!

I guess I have been slacking off with the updates on my treatment.  I had my second chemo on 4/29.  I didn't get as sick this time because I was given Emend by my Dr. to take right before and the following two days.  The only problem I had was feeling like I had eaten a huge turkey dinner when I only had a sandwich.  At least I could eat.  Then came the pain after the Nuelasta shot.  Horrible back pain.  For days.  Like being squeezed in an vise grip for hours on end.  Even my guts felt squished.  My hair started falling out the day after Easter.  I cut it off and then got a crew cut.  A day later I just buzzed if right off.  I still have some stubble left but I'm learning to deal with bald.  
I am enjoying the arrival of spring.  Some days are colder than others but I felt it safe enough to go ahead and plant the lettuce and broccoli.  I have to get some cabbage still.  I did get a six pack but left it over at the church for the garden there.  

More chemo on Wednesday.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I want it to be over!  I have six more treatments.  SIX.  Then radiation.  I got another cold this time around.  I'm sick of being sick..  First picture is me with my wig on that I probably won't wear!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Almost time for Round #2

I just plain forgot to post after Chemo #1.  My surgery went easily for my port placement.  Not much pain after, just a little sore.  I got my first chemo treatment on April 13th.  They got the needle right in on the port and started me on fluids and steroids.  Then came the A push.  Andriamycin.  It is red and is a ten minute hand push by the nurse into the IV.  You pee red for a day after!  Then she put me on the cyclophosphamide drip.  After that I was done.  There was one point where she flushed the line and I got a hit of Epiruben I think and it felt like ants were crawling all over me and biting.  Even "down there".  I was squirming!  Oh and I got something for nausea.  Didn't work, by dinner time I was hunched on the toilet using the puke bucket.  I was sick for 4 days after.  I have had assorted symptoms.  Nausea, bone pain, general aches and pains, brain fuzz, I started to feel great by day 9 and had all kinds of energy.  Wondering if it was a mania.  I crashed yesterday, got so angry and started crying.  Well, another dose on Wed and I think my hair will start going soon. 
Easter was nice at church and I'm glad for that.  Nice breakfast and nice group of people.  Really starting to feel like I belong.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Still waiting

My appointment with the oncologist was rescheduled to next week because we are waiting for one test to come back.  They said it would be easier if all the tests were back so he can come up with a plan for treatment.  My incision seems to be getting a little better.  I went to the surgeon and she told me to pack it with gauze soaked in saline water and then cover it.  I put the ointment on it too.  It is taking a long time, but she said in two weeks it should be almost healed up.  I really hope so!  
I got a free head covering today from Gaila.  It is very pretty.  I just have to figure out how to put it on so it doesn't look dumb.  
  It has long ties in the back that come around and tie in the front.  I might wear it so it ties in the back, just my preference.  I don't want a huge bow on my forehead!  It is a great organization however and so nice to send me a free hat!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Incision getting worse

I can't even justify calling this thing an incision anymore.  Gaping wound is more like it.  I was cleaning it out this morning and trying to move away some of the dead tissue as instructed by my Dr.  The only tool I had besides my finger was a Q-tip so I used that.  I managed to work a hole through it and was rewarding with a geyser of gushing yellow fluid.  That kind of freaked me out but really didn't surprise me because I had a feeling that this sucker was tunneling.  It is really deep and keeps draining fluid.  Probably all the fluid backed up from having the tubes out and not having drainage.  I had been calling the surgeons office since Wed and today insisted on talking to someone.  Of course the Dr was in surgery today and I won't be seen until Monday!  I will probably need a nursing agency to come in and pack the wound etc...  I am not happy about this at all!  It is going to take weeks to heal this up.  I'm just hoping the whole incision doesn't open up.  It is not comfortable.  I feel odd sensations in my chest when I move and when I drink hot or cold liquids I feel that under the mastectomy site too. 
This reminds me of some of the terrible bed sores I have seen over the years while working at the nursing home.  They take a long time to heal up.  I am debating whether to post a picture of it or not.  It is pretty gross so maybe not!  Oh I was also chastised by the nurse for using a Q-tip!  I guess next time I will just stick my finger in there and drill it around!

Gross alert!

Gross alert!  Gross Alert!  I was cleaning my incision and was removing a piece of dead tissue and a hole appeared and all this yellow liquid mixed with blood started pouring out, sopping my pants and a bunch of gauze.  I wonder if the Dr. wants to talk to me now?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I am not dealing with this incision very well mentally.  I can change the dressings ok, but having to put the ointment on it is really freaking me out.  I can't really tell if the incision is healing because of the dead tissue built up on top of it.  The ointment I am putting on is supposed to "eat" the dead tissue away.  It is a pretty slow eater apparently.  I can't stand to deal with it.  I should of had them sign me up for the visiting nurse service.  I may end up having to go the hospital to have them clean all the dead stuff off.  I am worried that the wound is tunneling underneath the dead stuff.  I have seen some pretty nasty sores and wounds working at the nursing home but it seems different and freakier when it is on me! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not really "cancer" related

I went to see my PCP today about my chronic back pain.  She listened to my symptoms and history and looked at my back and she said I may have scoliosis!  She is sending me out for an X-ray just to see if there is a bone related problem.  I will be getting the bone scan on Thursday and well as the CT scan to check for the spread of cancer elsewhere in the body.  My mother and my brother both have back problems so this comes as no surprise to me.  My mother has osteoporosis and degenerating bones in her back and she is only 66.  My brother has chronic back problems too, but his might be related to something entirely different as he is so tall and thin.  I hope it is not scoliosis, but I am sure that this is something that is going to plague me for the rest of my life as it has been getting increasingly worse over time.  Good news however, hubby got me a nice recliner for the bedroom for $20 on Craigslist!  It looks brand new! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not been feeling so good

Sorry I haven't posted.  I have had a bad few days with a cold.  My surgery incision reopened also and I had a fever.  Went to the Dr. and she said it didn't seem infected but I've been on antibiotics just in case.  It has opened up more and is very disgusting to look at.  I can't even remember if I wrote about my visit to the oncologist.  I saw Dr. Keefe.  He is a very soft spoken and kind Doctor.  I think I will like him a lot.  He told me that after I get my tests done on March 3rd we can come up with a plan on how to tackle this cancer.  I am getting a CT and bone scan done first.  That will check to see if the cancer has spread.  He wanted to do a PET scan but that requires putting your arms up over your head and I cannot move my left arm higher than shoulder height.  If it has spread we have to come up with a whole new game plan but for now it looks like I will start chemo in about a month. This link will go to a picture that shows a drawing of breasts by the way.  Just to warn the sensitive folk.  I will get a port surgically implanted under my skin first.  I also may be getting my ovaries removed.  This type of cancer feeds off of female hormones so I will be put into menopause basically.  Nice, I will be a bald, one boobed angry woman!  Growing a beard... LOL 
Anyhow we are expecting freezing rain tomrrow so I hope that I can make it down to my appt tomorrow with the surgeon to check on the incision. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I got a fever last night and one of my drainage tubes started leaking from the insertion site.  I was worried and called the Dr.  She had me go in the morning and she removed the drains and put on a gauze dressing and dressed the incision also.  That has come apart a little and is also draining.  She said it looks ok but she wants me down Monday to check it again.  
I also went and saw the oncologist today, Dr. Keefe.  He was very nice and explained everything.  I am going for a CT and bone scan in one week.  That should give them an idea if the cancer has spread at all.  What those tests say will determine my course of treatment.  If I am going to start chemo it looks as if that will start in about a month.  Good news is that I can also take a shower now!  Yippee!  Now if I could just wake up and find some ambition....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My mastectomy Warning.. Graphic photo at end of surgery site

I had my mastectomy on Friday February 11th, 2011.  I didn't go in until 1:30 PM so I had to fast until then.  That was hard, not even coffee!  We got there and only had to wait a brief time before my husband and I were taken to pre-op.  I changed into a gown and put on a lovely blue surgical hat and little hospital socks.  The nurse came over and introduced herself and went over my procedure and put an IV in.  She chose the back of my hand.  She put in a little lidocaine first but that IV hurt like heck!  From now on I am going to insist on not getting them in the back of my hand!  I became a little tearful after and she thought it was from the IV but I told her it was just from pre-surg jitters.  
Then an anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about a new procedure called a spinal block which would help with the after surgery pain.  I told him I have had two epidurals in the past and had bad experiences both times.  He said they would give me "something to help me relax" first so I agreed.  This procedure involved me sitting up with my front half laying on a table with a folded up blanket.  They put in numbing medication first, and then did an ultrasound to find where to put in the spinal blocks.  They started and I will tell you, it hurt like heck.  The pain wrapped around to the side and I was ouching and moaning each time they put in more.  Finally after the ninth injection I began hyperventilating and said I was going to vomit or pass out.  They stopped and lay me down and decided they would not proceed.  I was glad because that was terrible.  What little they did get in worked somewhat however.  I was sent back to pre-op and waited another hour while they finished up with a different surgery.  My Doctor had met with me earlier and drew her initials above my left breast.  Here is a picture of us together.
I was finally brought down to the surgery room by a different anesthesiologist and they began prepping me.  They explained everything.  I slid onto the surgery table myself and they strapped down my IV arm.  They put the mask over my face with regular oxygen.  Then they told me they were going to put me to sleep.  I could tell when the medicine went into my veins.  I felt a buzzing feeling.  At the same time I could start to smell the gas.  I just prayed to Jesus and I was gone.  Next thing I remember was someone telling me I was all done.  I was in the recovery room and could here a man close by yelling in pain or distress.  He was waking up from what I think was emergency surgery from a sledding accident.  Sounded pretty bad from the way people were talking.  I went to my regular room after I woke up enough and my husband took this picture of me!  I was not happy about that!
It turns out every time they gave me morphine I began vomiting.  Once they figured out it was the morphine they stopped that.  I only slept about two hours that night.  I was so uncomfortable and the bed was making my butt sore.  I was happy to go home the next day.  I had two drainage tubes in and still do.  Here is a graphic picture of my incision.  Be warned now.. it is graphic!

I still have the tubes in and are hoping to get them out early next week!  People have been so supportive of us the last couple weeks.  I will be meeting with the oncologist in March.  Starting chemo and radiation at some point.  I will have to get another operation to get a port put in for my chemo.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wonderful church service

Today I was annointed with oil and had hands layed on me and was prayed over at Living Springs Community Church.  Then I spoke to the congregation.  I started crying but my message was heard and received I believe with love and understanding.  Here is what I said..
I am up here today to personally thank each and every one of you for the caring and love that you have shown me and my family these past weeks.
As some of you know, I have been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.  I had a mastectomy and lymph node dissection last Friday and cancer was found in 10 of 19 lymph nodes.  I will now be getting chemotherapy and radiation.
During the last two weeks, my family has been blessed with an abundance of home cooked meals and food.  We have enjoyed dishes such as macaroni and cheese, lasagna, potatoes and beef, chicken noodle soup, roasted chicken and even country breakfast pie!  We are so grateful for everything our church has done for us.
I truly know now what being a Christian means.  I have met people before who call themselves Christians but would not raise a hand to help someone in need.  Before me I see true Christians.  I see people who live with Christ in their hearts.
I don't have anything to give back to you except my thanks and my time to work for the church but I do want to tell you this.
Ladies.. please don't put off your mammograms or other yearly tests.  I went a whole year after discovering my lump until I was diagnosed.  Don't take NO for an answer if you feel something is wrong.  Keep going back until you are satisfied.  A Doctor told me nothing was wrong and I lost nearly 9 months of possible treatment.
Men.. yes you Men!  You are probably thinking what does this have to do with me?  There are tests that you need to get done too!  Don't skip it because it is embarrassing or you feel fine.. my father had prostate cancer and luckily it was caught early enough and he was cured!  Don't put off your exams either.  No one needs to die of Embarrassment!
Lastly, I want to thank "Don't call me Pastor" Kurt Brown and his wife Sharon for organizing the meals for our family.  I feel so blessed to be part of this church family and I want you to know that each and every one of you are special and are here at this church for a reason.  You might not know what it is, but God does.  
Thank you again and God bless you!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taking the road less traveled

Probably the best way to start any story would be to introduce the main character.  My name is Linda Mae Weigel (Wheeler).  I was born August 21, 1966 which would make me currently 44 years of age.  I have one older sister, one younger sister and brother. 
I did not have an easy time growing up, my road has always been hard with many bumps and sharp corners!  I had my first child, a son at the age of 25.  A daughter later at the age of 33.  I was just remarried a year and 6 months ago.  My husband brought a son into the marriage, so here I was at 43 starting a new marriage with a blended family. 
About a year ago I began to notice a little lump in my breast right above my left nipple.  It was small and I didn't think to much about it.  Fibrocystic breasts run in my family, along with cysts and another benign anomalies.  It didn't go away and actually began to get bigger.  I started worrying a little and did something stupid and did not go to my Doctor right away.  It wasn't until my nipple began pulling in that I began to really worry.  My sister came up for a visit in May and I asked her to look at it.  She took one look and with her eyes bugging out said, "You need to call the Doctor now"!  So a couple days later I made an appointment and went in to see my Primary care Dr. She looked at it and was quite concerned.  By this time it was not just a little lump, it was around a 4 cm mass.  She immediately ordered a mammogram and ultrasound and asked me to see my surgeon.  I did both of those things knowing that I probably had breast cancer.  I was shocked and actually somewhat disappointed when the surgeon told me that all I had was a large cyst.  I went in and had it drained in a very painless procedure and that was that.  I returned to see him for the results and he said everything was normal.  My breast however still had the mass, so he ordered a biopsy.  When I went in for that the ultrasound tech went over my breast and surprise, the cyst was back!  So the radiologist drained that again and took a biopsy sample exclaiming over how dense the breast tissue was. 
You can imagine my surprise when I was told that the biopsy was once again negative.  I returned once more in August with bloody discharge from my nipple which was turning in even more.  He sent me out for one more ultrasound and two smaller cysts were found to the 1:00 position of my breast above the nipple.  I could feel another lump there about the size of a grape.  Once again, I was told everything was negative.  I asked the surgeon what this mass was in my breast and expressed my concern but he just said "I don't know what it is but if it is still bothering you in a couple months you can come back".  I was pretty disgusted by this time and had a deep down feeling that something was wrong.  I returned to my primary care Doctor and she agreed that something just wasn't right and referred me to Dr. Pietrocola in Albany.  Unfortunately during this time all this was going on I had had a nervous breakdown and was out of work for 12 weeks.  I lost my job and then lost my health insurance.  By the time I got health insurance back and was able to see the specialist it was January 5 of this year! 
Dr. Pietrocola took one look at my breast and said "Oh, my"!  By this time a large mass was growing above the nipple and the nipple itself was almost completely turned under.  She asked me what had been done so far and told me there is a type of cancer that does not show up on mammograms and ultrasounds.  She ordered an MRI.  It took me two weeks to get it because it had to be pre-approved by my insurance company. 
Waiting for the results of that MRI seemed to be a lifetime.  She finally called and told me that it did look cancerous.  She said it appeared to be a lobular type cancer.  Biopsies were ordered and I went in the following week to Albany Med South Clinical Campus.  The people there were just wonderful.  I had gotten my MRI there also.  I cannot speak highly enough of the staff there at AMC. 
The biopsy process took over two and a half hours and was very stressful.  Suspicious masses had been seen in both breasts so both were biopsied.  Several samples were taken and clips were placed in the suspicious areas.  I waited another week for the results and was finally told that I did indeed have cancer.  It was called Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. After a visit to Albany to see Dr. Pietrocola,  I was staged at Stage 3A at the time.  3 is for the size of the tumor and A was because one lymph node was involved.  For more on staging of cancers click HERE.  I was just so upset that this was missed by the last Doctor but she told me that this cancer is very sneaky.  She told me it had probably been growing for quite a while.  I was scheduled for a mastectomy with lymph node dissection on February 11th.  On the image below the cancer is the large white area on the breast area to the right, the image is actually reversed as it is the left breast that is effected.  Down below that is the cancerous lymph node.   To be continued....