Monday, December 26, 2011

Cancer changes you

I am almost over the Radiation and even if I will be doing Herceptin all next year I think after January 11th I will consider that my bigger cancer treatment is over after 6 months: Surgery, chemo and Radiation. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but I will lie if I say that Cancer has not changed me, it has changed me in many ways, some good and some bad.

I eat much healthier than ever before, I do more exercise. I enjoy each day with my friends and family and I am thankful for each day. I have decided to do big changes with my professional life and I am super happy and excited about them, can not wait to go back to work!. I know who my real friends are and I know they will be friends for ever!. I have touched based with family that I have not spoken in years and really happy about it. I have met really special people who are going through the same as me, both here and in Spain these people are the strongest you will ever find, it is an honor to be part of their fight and life.

It has given me also many bad things that hope will get better. I do not have breasts anymore and the scarfs remind me of it every day. My body is not the same any more, I am still too sensitive to changes and do get tired very easy but I guess things will get better. I heard my son talking to a friend one day saying :" my mammy does not have hair but I like it", you probably know what I did when I heard that...I cried!, now the other day he come to me and he said.."mammy, your hair is growing"!. I also get really anxious about any symptom my body gives to me: a headache, a muscle ache anything...I know I am going to have a hard time dealing with it in the coming years as everytime something hurts I will think cancer is back.

But despite everything I am fully aware that I have got a good chance of being ok for many years and that I will not learn from this situation if I do not do real changes in my life and in me as a person. I am just really grateful for having this second chance and being able to enjoy it with the people I love the most who are my friends and family.

Radiation - More update

This is specially for Ainara as she wanted to see the machine where they do radiation. They will not do a photo with me on it but they told me that they will find a photo for me and they did. This is the place where I spend time every morning, the machine is called 2100 IX Varian and does both X ray and radiation.

You lay down in the bed and they move the bed up and back to meet the machine. The top screen has got like laser beans that are align to the 5 tattoo dots around my left breast. Then they have got a computer in front of the machine that tells them what position I have to be located exactly. The front of the machine rotates around and the top has got like metal teeth that closes and opens depending how much radiation they do. All radiations are on the left breast but with different angles. They radiate 3 times in different positions on the right, one on the top and around 4 other positions on the left side. They are targeting my left breast, my underarm and the left chest all the way up to the shoulder as that is where the next lymph nodes are located.

I have now done 17 sessions and so far so good, I have not had any burns but my skin colour is different from the right breast. The cream that Dulce sent me from Spain has been really good and so far it is really working. I do feel tired but I am not sure if it is radiation or just the busy schedules that we are having during Christmas. Around 10 days ago the machine broke and they went through the list of who was high risk and who was not high risk, the ones high risk had to be back in the afternoon, the ones with the low risk had a free day. I was given the day free which was great, meaning low risk, however it means that I will be finishing now on the 11 of January vs. earlier. I had a conversation the other day with my doctor to do double days so I could finish earlier and he told me again that I do not gain anything good with it, the only thing I might gain will be a skin burn that my plastic surgeon will not like. So we will not be doing double days and we will be finishing on the 11 of January, almost there....

I did go last week to do Herceptin as well, nothing to report that way. One hour connected to the IV through the chemo port and no side effects so really happy with it!.

Merry Christmas

Happy holidays to everyone!, It has been two weeks without writing anything but I am just having such a great time that I have got no time for anything. This Christmas are really special for us as my parents, my sister and her family are spending Christmas with us. It has been probably 3 years that we did not have a proper Christmas together as two years ago we decided to stay in California and last year only Ethan and I made it to Spain as Alberto was working and could not make it.

My parents arrived two weeks ago and I have really enjoyed them, last time they were here was back in July when I had the surgery and when I was doing Chemo and I was not up to doing much with them apart from laying down in the sofa and going for a walk. This time my mom will come with me to radiation each morning and after we will go shopping, or for a walk or just cook lunch together. Last week my sister, her husband and my two nephews arrived as well, last time they were here were 6 years ago. They have been here only for a few days but we have not stopped since they arrived, they have been bowling one day, skating another, Vasona park lights, San Francisco and they have already gone to see the Golden Warriors first NBA game!. And....during all these busy activities we had Christmas eve and Christmas day when we did not stop eating as you usually do. This Christmas we had special people staying with us for dinner and lunch which was Damaris and her family, I do not know them for a long time but they have been like family to us for the past 6 months.

The next 10 days are going to be busy, we have got a party arranged at home, a Sharks hockey game to go to, lots of shopping to do and two New years eve parties. During all these time I also have to do radiation and try to take things easy where I can as I do feel I get tired quicker than before.

Hope everyone has had a great Christmas, specially all the people who are fighting for their life, hope this Christmas has brought to them the strength they need to win the battle.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Radiation update

Hi all, have not written at all as my life is too busy lately, I guess that is a strong sign that I am coming back to normal. December is always a busy time with social events plus this one I am trying to make special effort to make it as special as possible.

So far radiation is going well, no burns, no pains, some of the appointments are really short. Mondays are X-rays to make sure that everything is ok and the radiation is happening in the right place. Tuesdays are doctor visits after radiation appointment. But the rest of the week is just the radiation appointment and you are literally in the machine for short of 10 minutes. Last Wednesday they said they were doing more X-rays and I asked them why, they explained that the doctor had added a new blocker on my radiation which could happen if there are symptoms that some areas are being radiated more than wanted, like heart or lungs, the doctor reviews X-ray every week and might modify set up if needed.The machine that they use here is different from the photos that I saw in Eva's blog, the room here is super dark and the machine is like a big screen that closes and opens depends where they radiate, the big screen rotates around you to get different angles as well. I will ask them to make a photo one day... it is called Intensity Modulated radiation and they do X-ray and everything there.

I am using the cream Aquafor which is doing great but it is so oily that is leaving marks everywhere in my clothes...The doctor said I could use Nivea, the one of the blue box but he thinks will not be as strong as Aquafor so using Nivea during the day and Aquafor at night. One of my friends from Spain who had Breast Cancer 5 years ago recomended me another cream called Biafine but it is only sold in France. She was really nice to go to Bayona and bought me two of them that my parents will be bringing with them this week. I am hoping that all these creams will help to avoid any unwanted burns for the Christmas time...

I decided that I was going to buy presents for everyone that were important to me this Christmas, so I have been busy getting presents ready and shopping like mad. I have used also the time to meet friends and have the great time shopping, eating and having a great time with all my friends. These days are busy, from lunches to cookie exchanges to Christmas parties, I think I will have around 6 parties before Christmas but I am picking up and choosing some of them as need to be realistic and can not go to all of them.

Also have got the house ready for all the Camino visitors this Christmas, have two trees in the house, all decorations up and all presents under the tree (well...except Ethan's ones that are hidden). I can not wait to see my parents in two days and looking forward to enjoy a very special Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am blonde!!

My hair is starting coming out but it is BLONDE!!!, not that I have got an issue with it but I was super dark hair before!!.

I have got like a fuzz of blonde hairs but I am not sure if this is what will grow or this is just what it comes back first and then my normal color will come back. I asked the Oncologist on Monday and she did not seem surprised about the color.

Do you guys know anyone who had color change?

First Radition done!

I had yesterday the first radiation test and today the first session. Yesterday they wanted to make sure my marks were aligned with the machine and all measurements were in place and correct.

Today it was much faster, I was in and out of the room in 15 min, it takes longer for them to lay you in the right position than for the machine to do the radiation. And for Ainara, I did not feel anything at all, it was quick and easy. Only thing I could complain is that they put you like a cover on your breast that is freezing cold and you can not moved when the are doing it.

They gave me two creams and from today I will start covering the area with them and see if by the end of it can avoid any burns.

Will be back tomorrow at the same time and Friday they are taking me earlier as we are going to Tahoe until Sunday!!. Not sure if we will have snow but I am sure we will have a great time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Monica!!!

Today is the birthday of my dear friend Monica, the most positive person I have ever met in my life. I love how she always manage to look at the bright side of everything, and how she has made me see things differently.

Love her to pieces and want to say thanks very much for your support and your friendship, specially the past 4 months which will never know how to pay back.

Love you girl.
Happy birthday!!
Mila

Happy late thanksgiving!!

I have had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend but I could not celebrate properly until today. My husband will tell you I am a paranoid woman but when it comes down to cancer I personally think you have to be, just need to learn how to deal with the anxiety better.

The story is...back in July when I was doing all my test I had an MRI that showed cysts in my liver, the PET scan did not show any cancer activity so all doctors decided that it was nothing to worry about. However it has been on the back of my mind all this time considering that liver is a weak area in my family. I have been mentioning to my Oncologist since October that I wanted to have it checked again and she said OK but maybe next year after you finish radiation but I am a stubborn one and wanted to have it now... so she agreed to do it so I could have peace of mind.

I went two weeks ago to do another MRI and a Muga scan. The Muga scan is a nuclear scan of your heart to see if your heart has been damaged by the chemo. The MRI was to check my liver only. Marcela come with me and I really appreciate that she spent all afternoon at the hospital waiting for me around. Muga scan was quick an easy and as I had done it before I knew what to expect, I have to get use to it as I will be having that scan every 2 or 3 months from now on as Herceptin could also affect the heart. The MRI was another story...I arrive there and a young technician come to pick me up, I had my IV on from the Muga scan so he only had to get me ready on the machine. He asked me if I had any metal on my body and I said...yes, chemo port and breast expander. He said.....that is OK we can do it.. So he put me in the MRI machine which I manage to get him to agree to put my feet first as I hate that machine. After 5 minutes he come to the room and he said...."there is metal on your body", and I said..."yes, chemo port and breast expander", and he said..."that is OK". So there we went again into the machine for another 5 min and then another girl come in the room and ask me: " have you got a chemo port?", and I said :" yes". Well after about 25 min the supervisor come to the room and he asked me: " have you got breast expander", and I said "yes" and he said..." you should have told us before", and I look at him and said..." you are joking right?. I have been saying that since I arrived". Well...they could not do the MRI as the metal on my breast expander was interfering with the images so I can not have an MRI until I get final implants.

I talked to Dr Chen after the MRI incident and she sent me last week to do a CT scan of the liver. The scan is super fast and less intimidating than MRI, only issue is the dye they inject you through IV at the end of the scan for about two minutes that gives you a large heat through your body that makes your heart go a bit faster than normal, but it is a quick scan so it is not that bad. Now with my luck it was waiting time again until after thanksgiving as my doctor was taking a long Thanksgiving vacation and was not going to be at the office. What is it with me and the waiting results on a long weekend?.

Well, I got the results today and the cyst are still there but have not changed in size and the radiologist confirmed that they are hemangioma which is a tangle of blood vessels that are not cancerous. Also Dr Chen told me that if they were a cancerous tumor they would have changed with the chemo treatment and the fact that they are the same confirms the diagnosis from the radiologist. I AM SO RELIEF!!!, I have been struggling sleeping for the past week, have had nightmares about the results and really having a hard time. The Muga scan was also perfectly fine and the chemo has not affected my heart one bit which is fantastic.

Now going back to my Thanksgiving weekend which was great!. On Thursday Alberto run the San Jose turkey trot early in the morning and Ethan run it with the kids later on that morning. We then went home to get ready to go to Lorraine's house for thanksgiving where we started having appetizers at 2 pm and we literally did not stop eating until 6 pm. That night both of her girls wanted to come for sleepover so we left her house with 3 kids, they were so cute the 3 of them sleeping in Ethan's room and he was really happy to have his friends in his house.

I love Thanksgiving as is the only holidays that is not religion, race or any other diferentiation. It is a great holiday to recap and give thanks for everything that has happen to us during the year. I had so much to give thanks for even if you would think I could be upset about the fact that I had Cancer. But I am thankful that it was located, that was treated, that my treatment has been on truck , that I am doing great. But specially I had many people to give thanks to, to all my friends and family but specially to my husband Alberto for having that unconditional support 24/7.

The rest of the weekend was busy, first we bought the biggest Christmas tree and we started Christmas decorations. In the US the preassure starts on Thanksgiving when everyone starts getting Christmas decorations out and it is tradittion to have it ready then. It is really hard to convince a 4 year old that we will wait two more weeks to start the decorations....Alberto has issues to get the tree through the front door as it is almost 3 metres high!. The tree was so big that I did not have enough decorations to put on it so had to go shopping again to get more ornaments...!. Alberto put the outside lights and we are almost ready for Christmas!. Alberto and Ethan went to Rosario's birthday party but I stayed behind to help Maite do the photo shot to Lorraine's family. On Saturday night we also went to my friend Laurie's for dinner and we had a great time on her brand new kitchen.

Now is time to get ready for my parents who are coming only in 2 weeks!!. I am starting radiation tomorrow as well and we are going to Tahoe for a short weekend on Friday. So feeling great, looking forward for everything happening in the next weeks and looking forward to have the best Christmas ever!!, I am going to enjoy all preparations and present shopping like never!!!.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Radiation

My original appointment with the Radiologist was the end of November but I have been recovering so well from Chemo that I changed it to last Thursday so can start radiation as soon as possible. I guess the sooner you start the sooner you finish....I would ideally want to finish by the end of December so I can start the new year fresh but I think might be a bit difficult...

So, I saw Dr Wang on Thursday and he got the message really fast that I do not want to wait around for something to happen. He is from the mentality that you should target the area as soon as you can after Chemo but giving some recovery time to the patient, however he is ok with me pushing Radiation to earlier than his recommended 4 weeks from Chemo treatment. My blood results are great, I feel great and I want to start ASAP. So I went back on Friday to have a CT scan and be measured, marked and tattoo on the left breast where radiation will happen. I was there for around 90 minutes going through the normal routine of listening to side effects and then spent all the time with the technician on the preparation. I had to stay still for around half an hour and that was a bit uncomfortable, but they have to do the scan, marked you and wait for the doctor to agree with all the marks and images, then they tattoo you and then you can move...I have got now 5 dots around my left breast that will probably be with me for ever but you can not see them really well so I do not expect to be an issue...

Next week is Thanksgiving in the US and Thursday and Friday is holidays for everyone and the Breast care center at Goodsam is closed so I do not think will start next week. The scheduler will call me early next week to agree on a start day and time of sessions, but they have promised me will be the 28 of November. During Christmas there are two days they are closed it means that if I do not do double days I will not finish until the first week of January, but I am ok about it, I would have prefer to finish the last week of December but I do not mind.

Breast reconstruction

I had my 3 month check up with Dr Liu (plastic surgeon) last Tuesday and he kind of broke all my plans. In my head the plan was: chemo for 8 sessions, 28 days of radiation on my left breast, 1 year of Herceptin and reconstruction will happen sometime next year around summer time.

When I arrive to his office he offered to get me into surgery immediately for reconstruction before radiation and it really got me by surprise. There are positives and negatives to have reconstruction before or after as follows:

Positives:

  • breast reconstruction final result looks better on a non radiated skin than radiated.
  • Breast reconstruction on a radiated area could have some risks of surgery not healing as well as non radiated area.
Negatives
  • if there is any complication on the surgery my radiation will be delayed and that is something that both my Radiologist and myself are not keen on.
  • There is a possibility that the final implant might be burn from radiation and the reconstruction might have to be done again.

I am going to stick to my original plan and first focus on the Cancer treatment and then focus on the aesthetic of my breast. Herceptin is a relatively new drug and due to their heart effects they will not get me into surgery until I have finished Herceptin which is the end of next year. That is ok with me, my temporally expanders are ok and not bothering me any more, they look great and none will ever think I do not have any breast, and I think can live with them for another year.

I have also given up about doing a tummy tuck surgery and going for permanent silicon implants. I am not sure if after this process I am going to want to go through such a big surgery of tummy tuck and reconstruction....If anyone reading this has done surgery of reconstruction and has got any opinions please share them, I will appreciate it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Celebration time - 2nd party

Today I had my second celebration of the end of my chemo, we got together at Rosario's house over 20 of us to both celebrate this milestone but more important to celebrate the friendship that we all have.

First Rosario lives at the end of the mountain in one of the most beautiful places I have been for a long time: Woodside in California. Beautiful house with beautiful views, I think I still have not gone over the view she has from her bedroom, you basically can see all San Francisco bay area from the bed!. Everyone had to wear something pink and bring a vegetarian dish, we ate like if there was no tomorrow. From Maite's carrots croquettes, Gema's mushrooms, Damaris's pupusas to all other delicious plates we have. And of course do not forget the desserts, first we are very lucky to have Neus who does at home amazing marzipan, truffles. Of course we could not forget my favorite banana cake that Monica remember to get for me from icing on the cake in Los Gatos and Isabel flan!. After today I might not eat for a long time...or I might have to walk additional tomorrow... 

Then Marcela as a good party planner had everything thought for us, she had breast cancer ribbons ready for everyone to wear. They bought me this beautiful heart necklace as well as some vouchers that we will use on a spa day very soon....I did not expect any present so I am even more thankful that they are so generous. Marcela had made an amazing scrapbook of photos that my husband had given to her from my family and my past, from amazing quotes that will write here in the coming posts. And of course not to forget the encouraging messages that each one of them wrote for me. Ah!, and Natalia did this really nice breast cancer ribbon with dry flowers and I will buy this week a frame to put it on. Jackie was the one in charge of the speech and God did I cry!. Their words of how much inspiration I am to them is amazing, I am really happy that they follow my pain and journey that close as it helps them to slow down in their lives and appreciate even more what they have around. I will never wish Breast Cancer to anyone in this world, but I would wish for people to know that life could be hard and you never know what is around the corner so you must enjoy life and people around your life, weather it is your husband and children, or the people who you work with or your neighbors. Just enjoy every minute of your day!.

I want to write here part of a quote that it was in the book they gave me that I find very encouraging:

Remember....there is a deeper strength and an amazing abundance of peace available to you.
You will make it through this time and find joy in life again.
Life continuous around us, even when our troubles seem to stop time.
The difficult times are often the best teachers, and there is a good to be found in all situations.
Reach for the good
Be strong
And never give up.

This reminds me what Cheryl always told me when I was first diagnosed...."You are stronger than what we thought and you can go through it. This situation will change you and make you a better person", and I think everything she told me will be true.

Celebration time - 1st party

What a week!, I think I have never cried so much in my life and it has been mainly for happy feelings. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people who are making this journey so much easier for me and my family.

First last Monday and after 7 hours chemo session I had a few friends and colleagues coming to my house to celebrate the end of the chemo session. Fiona was in town from the UK and she had organized a few of NVIDIA colleagues to come and celebrate, she is a bit rubbish (as she would say) organizing these things and even if it was meant to be a surprise party I found out about it..... so I extended the invitation to a few friends and we had a fantastic night. That day Alberto asked Dr Chen if I could have a glass of alcohol to celebrate that night and she said I could drink whatever I wanted to so I had a glass of wine and a glass of champagne, and slept like an angel that night. It was so nice to see "my boys" as I call the building E GPU team from NVIDIA and I think it was really nice for them to see that I am doing probably better that they were expecting.

I got such a nice presents from them, from flowers, champagne, coffee and a great music DVD (thanks John the music is fantastic). Ethan did some of his new jockey moves with his new Sharks top which we are having some difficulty to have it washed and cleaned on time for the next wearing as he even sleeps with it!. He went to see the sharks at HP Pavilion 10 days ago and he is back today again with Alberto to see them, thanks Fish for the tickets!, you made this 4 year old super happy!.

On Tuesday I went back to the clinic for the shot of Neulasta as usual and I know after that shot my pain starts....I had some great news though, my blood sugar has gone down to normal and the Diabetic test they did come negative so that is one thing less to worry about!. Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday was hard as expected but I think I even tolerated better than other rounds and it was probably because I knew it was the last one!!. I was so happy to see Thursday and knowing that I will not be having these treatments hopefully never ever again!.

Friday I took things easy during the day and in the evening we went to play bowling with the kids and our Spanish friends, Alberto was in charge of the boys bowling so I could talk to some of the moms and arrange the world without having the kids around!.

This week has been a bit emotional for me, for some reason the end of the chemo has surfaced some of that hidden feelings that you are containing because you are focus on the treatment. I am so happy to be over it that I do cry for any reason....but it is happy crying for sure!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Taxol round 4 ---- LAST CHEMO

This is one of the best days for quite some time. MY CHEMO TREATMENTS ARE OVER!!!!!!. All these horrible days of pain ,nausea, exhaustion and feeling poorly are almost over!.I only have got 2 or 3 days this week of feeling crap and then can start enjoying a more normal life.

I got an early start today as I was here at 8:15 for blood draw, it was so quiet that I was at the doctors appointment well in advance. The clinic was much calmer today being earlier so Dr Chen spent a lot of time with me. she did a full physical exam of all my body and she said everything looks great, my blood counts were also good. My blood sugar levels are lower but still higher than normal so today i was taking more blood to do another test just to make sure i am not becoming diabetic. She told me from now on I should be careful with sugars and weight gain, i guess it is real diet from now on.....

We talk a lot about the protocol and how everything will be moving going forward from now on. Today I started Herceptin which is a DNA cell protein bloquer, what happens is that when they do a biopsy and the surgery they analyse the cancer cells to see what it makes them being reactic and grow. Some breast cancers are triple positive, triple negative or between, triple positive is for progesterone, estrogen and protein. By analyzing the cancer they decide what drugs they can give you to combat the cancer best,most of breast cancer are reactive to the women hormones like progesterone and estrogen. The chemo treatment of AC and taxol is to kill any cancer cells in your body. The Herceptin is to block the DNA of the cells so the cells protein does not make the cells become cancer ones.Herceptin is given through vein every 3 weeks for a year but has got no visible side effects like nausea, hair loss or fatigue. Only issue with Herceptn is the heart muscle could get weak and therefore they have to do Muga scans every two months. I am sad that have to come to this room every 3 weeks for a year but the sessions will be short and I can go back to work straight after. I read an article the other day that talks about Herceptin, it is a very expensive drug that has been on the market for about over 5 years and it was only given to stage 4 cancer. They realize how effective is Herceptin for HER positive patient that now is given to everyone. It is used in the US and some European countries but in countries like Ireland or UK you have to pay for the drug from your pocket as the public health can not afford to give to everyone. It can reduce up to 50% the chances of cancer coming back so I am amazed some people can not receive it.

Tamoxifen is a hormonal treatment that blocks the reaction of estrogen on cancer cells. It is given through a pill daily for 5 years and has got same side effects than a menopause. Even if periods have stopped we do not know if I am on pre-menopause yet, if I get my period back next year they will stop the Tamoxifen and will give me Arimidex which is for non menopause women.

Now after today I start new round of checks and doctors visits. Next week I have got an MRI and a Muga scan of my heart, I am also meeting my radiologist Dr Wang to see when I start radiation. Te following week I am meeting my two surgeons for a 3 month check up and after all these visits and test hopefully can enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now is time to celebrate....today a few people from my old work and some close friends are coming to have a glass of wine or champagne with us at home. Then on Saturday well over 25 of my Spanish friends are meeting at Rosario's house for another celebration of this important milestone on my cancer battle.

Thanks everyone for all prayers, good thoughts, phone calls, messages....I could have never had done without my family and friends and specially my lovely husband who is always there to comfort and help me, I feel sorry for him that has been with me in this chemo room for almost 7 hours today!!.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stupid people

Alberto will say that I am more sensitive than before and he is probably right but I get particularly upset with people who think are smarter than you.

I got a bit upsetting phone call from someone who is probably a bit thick and had a really bad training when she started working, or she had a good training just did not get it at all, or she was told to talk to people like if you do not trust them. She basically called me and before she even asked me how my treatment was going or just a courtesy question as: " how are you feeling?", she went straight to the kill and try to tell me that the fact that I am sick might be at question. I was in denying listening to her telling me that I am going to be investigated as my cancer is considered a pre-existing condition. Am I listening right?, I am being treated for a Breast Cancer but it was there before I was treated and I knew about it!!. WTF?.

It turns out that my cancer is considered pre-exiting condition for 3 days, my first visit to the OB was on June 28th and some stupid clause of some agreement of something that someone forgot to mention or tell me about started on July 1st. So for 3 days I might not be entitle to something from someone, somewhere. What I will or will not be entitled to is another subject that will deal with and have got no doubts that will be shorted one way or another. If someone forgot to tell me something or someone forgot to do something, someone will have to answer to all my questions. This is what I hate sometimes in the US, all health and disability is so regulated by stupid insurance that sometimes try to make the process hard for you so you just get tired and do not fight any more with them. But I am a stubborn one so they can not get rid of me that easily....

But going back to my lovely lady, the one from the call, I do not think she knows what I am capable of. She made a big mistake by thinking she is smarter than me and called me trying to make me feel if I am playing the system and lying to them. I think that person is insensitive and should not be dealing with people who are sick at all. She does not know that I once did not stop in the UK until someone got a warning in Loyd's Bank for thinking she was smarter than me. And I will not stop until someone gives this girl a lesson of humanity or just fired her as she is not suitable for this type of work. The sad part is that I wonder how much damage she will do if instead of being me she will call a person who is more vulnerable emotionally, healthy or emotionally, for that reason I will make sure she learns the lesson.

And yes I am more sensitive than before but I guess I am entitle to when you have been administrated really strong drugs for 3 months, had days that felt as low as you could have ever felt, you should be more sensitive. This week I am even more upset as I thought I was not going to lose more hair but I am now at this stage of my treatment losing my eyebrows and eyelashes really fast. I am not upset because I am losing them but because I was not expecting to lose any more hair.

Anyway, I will not allowed for this lady or any company in this world to upset me for one moment, even if I have to admit that I had to go for a walk this afternoon to relax a bit.

Halloween

Part of me is so happy that is over but other part feel bad as the kids have so much fun!!. We had the first Halloween party in our street on Sunday and we celebrated with our neighbors, it is a great excuse to get together and get the kids dress up one more time. Ethan was dress up in red Spiderman.

Monday arrive and Ethan woke up super excited as it was Halloween day. We dress up in black Spiderman this time and went to school where they had a Halloween party and parade. Alberto and I come back to the school to see the parade later on and it was so cute to see all the kids dress up with their Halloween costumes. The afternoon they were dress up in the house waiting for the trick and treat to start and they could not understand why we could not just go to all the neighbors houses until it was dark.  This time Ethan decided to go back to red Spiderman. We manage to hold them in the house until 6:30 and after that it was time to hit the street and pick up as much candy as we could...The amount of candy they get is a bit scary but I try to hide and take it away from him as much as I can. We come back home about an hour later and we had people coming for trick and treat in the house until almost 9 pm.

Have to say I am really proud of myself as I have not eaten even one small piece of candy, not even one!.

Happy Birthday Marcela!

Last Saturday we celebrated Marcela birthday party at Pedro's in Santa Clara. I will not disclose her age in case she gets upset with me, still have to say she looks fantastic for her age. 16 Spanish women in a restaurant is a recipe for a fun night....We had a great time and at the end we were kind of asked to leave the restaurant as we were almost the last one to leave. I loved Maite and how funny she was after a few margaritas...

Do not think I have ever met any person who does not like Marcela, there is nothing not to like about her and there is so much to like. She is the most caring, loving and patient person I have ever met in my life. She has been a fantastic help for us during the past 4 months and I will always owe her all her support and amazing caring for us.

Saturday I felt great but did not stop all day from Ethan's soccer game, to going shopping for Alberto's new bike, to going out for dinner with the ladies. It is amazing how after the few bad days you rebound really fast back to normal and star feeling like any other human being.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taxol Round 3!!

Can just not believe that I can say I only have got 1 more to go!!!, only 1 more to go!!. I did not write anything yesterday as I was so entertained that I did not have any time to write in the blog. Here is all about it...

Arrived at the lab at 9:45 and they did not call me for blood draw until 10:15, they were so delay that it was quite stressing. I saw Dr Chen almost at 11 more than half an hour later than expected. The lab being so slow screw up all the appointments and the clinic was like out of control. I did not speak much with Dr Chen as she was on a rush but enough to let me know that everything was ok. She called me 10 days ago to let me know that my blood sugar was high and I had to take less steroids. She thinks my high sugar is temporally as it has started only since the first Taxol session, but just in case she is doing a sugar test in two weeks and she asked me to avoid any pure sugar like desserts...I do not eat much anyway but will watch even more now.

Lorraine come with me this time and it was great as the time goes faster when you are talking to someone, she was so nice to put Sofie in daycare to spend sometime with me. Alberto always wanted to be there with me but this time Lorraine told him that she was coming anyway so he left for a few hours. Lorraine left close to 1 and Alberto come after to stay with me.

I sat on the semi-private room and 3 other girls were there with me, the 4 of us were breast Cancer patients, the younger 31 years old and the older I guess around 50. All of us were stage 2 patients (two A and two B), and 3 of us the cancer was similar in terms of size, cancer positive to progesterone, Estrogen and protein. The younger girl was triple negative which limits her the treatment options but hopefully the chemo will do the trick for her. They told me about radiation as two of them are done or almost done and both have had burns from it, I am now not looking forward to it but I am still thinking it will be an easy thing after the chemo. Both of them are doing Herceptin and one has got no side effects but the other spends about a day struggling with it.

The day of the chemo I am normally ok so yesterday when I arrived back home I was cooking so I could have some healthy dinner for last night and today lunch. Today the pain started late morning, as expected starts in my arms and legs first and I know by now that if I do not get the advil in quantity on time the pain escalates really fast, really high. I am all loaded on pain killers now so even if the pain is there I can perfectly tolerate it. Now it is just another 48 hours of feeling like this and the 7th chemo session will have and almost end for me, the rest of the week I will fee tired but nothing I can not manage.

These past few days I had a few surprises that want to mention, I had a really nice E-mail from a family old friend who is my age and had breast cancer 4 years ago. Her family was aware of it but they had not tell her anything, they are from the opinion that the less you talk about it the better for the person affected. She found out by chance and called my mom immediately, she sent me a very nice E-mail yesterday that was really nice. She knows exactly what I am going through in terms of the amount of scare that goes through your body, scare of tomorrow, scare of recurrence, scare of any signs your body gives you, scare of the love ones to make sure they are ok with the situation. But she told me that it gets better and as soon as you finish treatment you come back to normal life really soon, and it is today after 4 years that she spends days and weeks without remembering about the cancer. I really appreciated her message!.

Now...Halloweeen. As you all know we do celebrate a lot in the US. We had our first party at Ana's house on Saturday and we had a great time, we ate lots of Indian food and the kids enjoy every minute of it. Here are some photos from the event. We even manage to take Mario home for a sleep over that Ethan was really happy about as it was Mario's first sleepover. They were so nice, they were sleeping within 15 minutes of arriving home and they slept all nigh without waking up at all!


Just come back from the clinic from my immune system shot. I asked for the latest blood final result from yesterday and my blood sugar has decreased dramatically, it is still higher than normal but it is much lower which is good. So I am just hoping that this is just temporally which I think must be as I have never had an issue before with blood sugar.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

International Breast Cancer day

Want to use this especial day to recap on what has been my past 3 and a half months, I guess this is the extreme example of how a person's life can changed so much in such a short period of time. The photos here are from my friend Maite.

The emotional rollercoaster has been very hard, first when you find out that you have got cancer you think about dying. In my case I just started having really bad dreams about dying and had a really hard time to cope with them. When you realize that you are not going to die, that the doctors are very positive and there is a plan in place to get that cancer out of your body, then you become like this super human. I always told everyone who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after me that you should not underestimate your body as we are much stronger than what we think we are. I would have never thought that I could go through a double mastectomy surgery and 6 chemo sessions and feeling so good physically but I did it and feel really proud of it!!.

Now in the past few weeks I am starting to experience a new emotional feeling that I had not had before: fear of recurrence. During the past 3 weeks I have had a cold coming and going that could not get rid of, last week at the end it went to my chest and I had to be put on antibiotics as I had bronchitis. Every day that I felt a soar throat my first thought was: is it now on my throat?. Or last week when I had the coughing: is it now on my lungs?. I honestly had a really hard time to understand that it is almost impossible that the cancer is anywhere else as my margins were negative and PET scan did not show anything anywhere, and what I am experiencing is just a cold like any other person. When talking to Cheryl she told me it is normal for at least two years to have that feelings and slowly you just learn how to cope with that anxiety.

But to cope with that anxiety levels, the down moments and the crying times I have had a really strong support system. Many of my friends say that I am always with a smile in my face and I am the strongest person they have met, I personally think I am not that strong just try to educate myself really well....going down during this time is not an option, I need to be strong and be positive. There has been a few days that I have had some bad moments and suddenly a very good friend has called me or come around the house to get me out for a walk...and I thought what a coincidence...well there was no coincidence it was Alberto sending messages or calling them saying we need you but she will not ask for help!.

To all these people who have been with me during this battle thanks very much for making this your personal battle as well. I wish I could be in Spain to be next to my family, it might have been easier in terms of logistics but I am also really happy we are here in the US. My US  family has taken care of us as well as the Spanish one would have done, there has been so many people who has offered so much help to us that it has been an eye opener.

A friend asked me some time ago if I have had any surprises on this process and my answer was yes. You always have got people who surprise you for the good or the bad, this is like a train you are on it for a long run but you do not know who is going to ride with you all the way or who is dropping in what station. Some people just got out really early even if I bought them a long distance ticket, but you need to keep in mind that for some people this situation is hard, it reminds them of their mortality and it is really hard for them to cope with it. Some people I never bought them a ticket but they have been with me all the way through. To everyone who has been with me independently of when they join and when they left THANKS VERY MUCH.

Today and after having some bad emotional days have to say that I am more than ever a believer that I can win this battle and I will. I have got the best husband that anyone could have, a beautiful son that needs me more than anyone and a strong family and friends that adores us and wants to battle with us.

Want to send a big kiss to all my battle friends who are going through the same as me from Ainara, Marta and Cristina. A especial kiss and big thank to my friend Cheryl Sole to be such a strong survivor and such an inspiration to me.

Spanish Classes

My group of friends of 2culturas are amazing!. For all my friends in Europe, 2culturas was created a long time ago by a few moms, who were part of the group Spanish in the Silicon Valley, who wanted to get together to do activities for the kids.

I met the group for the first time exactly 4 years ago when I went to Rosa's house for a Halloween party. As we all know us Spanish we are a bit loud and when I met them that day they were all screaming and laughing and I thought....Oh my God!. I have had the opportunity to get to know them very well during the past 4 years and they are fantastic. I like how active they are for the kids but I love how big of a support system they are.
Lately I can't cope with their activities but I try to go to as many as I can. On Monday's we meet in a school and some of them teach the kids Spanish, they divide the kids in groups of ages. Ethan for example is in the intermediate kids and they start learning the letters and more Spanish vocabulary. His teacher is my idol Maite Pons that I will never know where she gets the energy from, she is a kindergarten teacher, an amazing mom of 3 beautiful kids and a very talented photographer but she still has got time to teach Spanish classes. This photo is from this past Monday from the first class for this year.

Then on Fridays we get together so the kids can play, depends on the weather we do park or inside activities. Ethan loves it as he is so close to a few of the kids that he has been playing for a long time now. Then once a month we also do family activities so the husbands and the rest of the family can get together as well. We are going to San Francisco Zoo first week of November, we just did a picnic on the beach and we will probably do many other activities in the coming months.

I love this group to pieces, they are so helpful and so cheerful that have been a tremendous support system for us.

Holly and Neska

I have never introduced the last two members of the family in this block but now that they are going to be famous I think I need to put their photo here...

Thanks to Mick for giving me this special present!. The girls will have this photo on a mural display at Pet Food Express in Bascom Avenue in San Jose for a year starting any day now.... Holly was 6 this month and Neska will be 6 in January, both have been with us since they were 10 weeks old. People who do not have dogs might not understand it but for us they are our children.

Holly is like any normal dog, likes to fetch and she is really active, she stays away from Ethan but she is the first one to be next to him when he is crying. From both of them, she is the one with more emotions, when we go to Spain and leave them at the kennel, when we return she will be days without looking at us. She loves laying on the floor next to you in the sofa and she is super good with any commands. We only have got one issue with her which is that she runs to the neighbor's house if the door is open as they have got a cat. Last Sunday a car almost run over her and it was quite upsetting....

Neska is not like any normal dog at all!. I always thought that she can not hear or smell very well and even if Alberto tells me that I am wrong I still think she can not smell and hear. She is so uncoordinated, so lazy and so much drama....but she is so cute that sometimes you just laugh. Ethan does anything with her as she is fine with anyone who is willing to touch her for one sec, so she copes with Ethan for hours of hugs, play dressing and who knows what else he does with her.

Love both of them to pieces, they are my excuse to walk every day as well which is good for me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taxol - round 2!

I was a bit nervous today as I had such a big cold last week that was worried my blood counts were not going to be OK. But they were perfect and we are here half way of the Taxol bag, have around two more hours to go and can go home and lay down a bit.

I talked to Dr Chen about the pain management of Taxol and she told me that for the first round that I only took 1 tablet of Advil of 200mg that it was not enough. She asked me to take 3 tablets every 6 to 8 hours and if not enough to take 4, and... If still not enough to call her in order to fax my pharmacy a prescription for something stronger. I hate to take medicines and in Advil case the box says you should not take more than 6 pills a day, she told me I could take up to 12 a day and to do so if I need it, you just not take that dose of Advil for a headache but yes for this level of pain.

Overall Dr Chen told me after exam that I am doing great, we have decided to start Herceptin on my last session of Taxol and not before. She thinks that it might be too much for my body to start today so she prefers to wait. We talked about my cold and she is not worried about congestion colds, we will try to do flu shot next week. Last few days I have been freaking out as my throat has been a bit sore, probably from the cold, but today is ok. Last year if I had a sore throat I will wonder if I had strep or just ignore it as it was part of the cold. When you have been diagnosed with cancer and you have got a sore throat, the first thing that comes to your mind is...have I now got cancer in my throat?. Then you put yourself back into prospective and realize that is part of the cold!, but I can see myself having issues through this roller coaster. Must remind to myself that I have got a small chance that cancer will come back and probably will not, and have to educate myself to control that anxiety moments, but I am positive that will go through them.

I also show her my multivitamins as the nutritionist asked me to change to "centrum A to Z". Dr Chen likes them too but she asked me to also supplement it with additional Vitamin D and calcium as that specific multivitamins does not have enough. It is ironic that I have to wait to have Cancer to be super healthy, now I eat beautifully, take lots of vitamins and probably my immune system is at the highest level ever. Just sad that something has to happen in your life to be nicer to your body.

I met a girl today who is doing the same treatment as me and also has Breast Cancer, she is only 31 years old. I show her last time I was there as well but had not spoken to her before. She also decided to do double mastectomy as me but she is not doing radiation which I am not sure why but did not ask either. She has got much more issues than me, she has Celiac disease, asthma and some kind of skin issues and I was next to her when she was given the nurse the long list of medicines she is taking and how long has she been taking them. She seems really positive and nice girl, just hope the best for her as well.

Now going back to the past few days, I could not do anything from Wed to Friday as I was in bed with the big cold. I slept a lot and tried to be as much hydrated as I could, I think we did evening walks on some of the days but do not recall which one. On Saturday is the first day I went out, we went to Ethan's soccer game, he scored 2 goals from the 3 of the team and I have to say that I do not recall what was the final score. We did not do much the rest of the day and took it easy. Yesterday we went to mass as Ethan had started Sunday school and after lunch we went to Morgan hill to a pumping patch that was packed. We ride a few places and Ethan loved it!. We bought three pumpkins and come back home as I think all dust of the field was making my cold worse. We come back home and my eyes were really dry and my throat was itching, I got a bit upset as I do not want to slow down the chemo process. So last night I bundle with scarf, hat and after a hot glass of rice milk with honey went to bed to sweat, I woke up like a new person!

Ok, now I am home, going to take things easy, relax and wait for that horrible pain to arrive, this time I hope to combat it.

And the last thing, only 2 more to go!!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Another Cold.....

Wednesday was a bit dramatic day. First Alberto arrived to HP offices when the girl was shot at the HP car park, the place was full of policy but they did not tell him what was going on so he went to his desk. They were retain at the office until 11:30 as the gunman was still on the loose and they had no idea where he was. We were a bit worried and it was so confusing on the ground what was happening, he managed to get his car and made it home after mid day.

Then I have been having one of my bad congestion colds since Tuesday, I could not have the flu shot then and do not think can take it this week at all. On Wednesday it got worse and have been in bed almost since them as when I get a cold it goes to my eyes and I just can't open them.

Alberto was laughing about me last night, he said I will be perfect for a Halloween costume as I am super white and red inflamed eyes and nose. This photo is specially for my friend Ana and Eva from Spain who normally will laugh about my famous colds as I am the only one who gets them that bad. Anyway, today I am much better but will stay with blanket and orange juice over the weekend as I have got my chemo session on Monday and I do not want to slow it down.

I hope none else is getting these nasty colds, but there are so much weather changes in California at the minute that is impossible not to get one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nutrition

I think this might be interesting for some people so the ones that do not want to worry about food in take can ignore this post.

I have been as you probably notice reading a lot about what to eat and what not to eat, how to have a balance diet. Dr Chen gave me sometime ago details of a Nutrition consultant in case I needed it and today I decided to meet with her to discuss some of my rules and some of my daily eatings to check if it was ok. My rules have been:
  • No meat
  • No milk and limited yogurts and cheese
  • No white Flour
  • No refine sugar
  • Brown pasta and rice
  • Broccoli or Kale every day on the diet.
A normal daily food for me today is as follows:

Breakfast - Mix of cereal (Cheerios, All bran and Kellogg's) with Rice milk
Mid morning - some kind of fruit
Lunch - Some kind of vegetable puree like cauliflower with onion and potatoes and a Broccoli casserole with egg and milk. (one day will put the recipes).
Mid afternoon - Fruit with Kale chips
Dinner - Brown rice with vegetables
Rice milk before going to bed.

Well, she told me that I am complete off on calcium, fat and protein so she gave me some new rules to include but I still can hold my rules if I want to. Her opinion on meat and diary is different from mine but she does agree that there is a scientific reports that shows that low fat diets do help with Cancer recurrence but she suggest that during Chemo I do not reduce my fat too much so can avoid issues. These are her new rules:
  • Eat weekly rainbow of antioxidants vegetables, make sure that each week they are on my diet:
    • Red: Strawberries, red pepper, tomatoes
    • Orange: Oranges, Squash
    • Yellow: Pineapple, banana
    • Green: Broccoli, Kale, Leak
    • Blue/Purple: Blueberries, plums
    • White (she included even if not in the rainbow): Mushroom, cauliflower, garlic
  • I can avoid normal milk but need to drink 2 cups of rice milk and a Yogurt per day
  • Eggs and dark beans every other day.
  • Even if I use olive oil every day, she thinks is not enough fat so she recommends that I need a handful of nuts at mid afternoon and one avocado per day.
  • She also recommends Salmon twice a week.
  • The rest she is ok the way I am cooking and eating all the food.
To some of the questions I had for her...the answers were interesting:
  • Should you eat vegetables raw or cook them?, she agrees that cooking vegetables some vitamins are lost in the water, so you have to puree it together or you drink the water, if not you miss some vitamins from cooking them. So she prefers if you eat things raw as far as chemo treatment allows you to eat raw food.
  • My breast cancer is positive on estrogen. What food should I avoid?, mainly soy and she is not too certain on the white flour but she is ok with me to replace it with wheat flour. I was not sure on Flax seed but she confirms that they do not generate estrogen.
Sorry for the long message but I am sure some of my friends will be interested on reading all these details. It was piece of mind to have a 45 min chat with her to make sure I was doing things right, have never been so conscious about what I eat in my life!.

She also mentioned about the fact that when people arrive to the US their risk of breast cancer is higher than if they leave in Europe or Asia. So when I arrived home I recommended Alberto to move back to Europe so the risk of recurrence mainly due to food intake will be lower, his face said it all...basically NO!, just make sure you eat healthy and we will be fine.

Monthly Spanish get together

As every month or will say sometimes more often than once a month, we manage to get a few of us together for lunch during the week. Last two times we have done in Santana Row that for my UK and Spanish friends is a street full of designer shops, restaurants and no so expensive shops that has got kind of European feeling but is in San Jose. It is lovely to have lunch or Dinner or even to go for a walk, this week I will go twice, yesterday with my Spanish friends and tomorrow with Cheryl.

We missed Marta who had a cold and want to say good luck to her again on her 3rd AC treatment tomorrow. Also Monica did not make it as she had a last minute dentist appointment. But we manage to recruit Olga and Natalia who are new to the area and we are introducing them to the good things. This might be the last lunch for Miriam as she might have gone into labor by the next time, we hope so for her as she looks like she has had enough even if she looks super cute.

Why do I love this group so much?, because they do whatever they have to do to make sure you are ok, they do leave their families to come and see me, have a walk with me or just call me once or even twice a day to make sure I am doing ok. Every chemo treatment I have got I know that all of them (I am talking about more than 10 people) are going to call me or Alberto or are going to call Marcela to check how I am doing. Ana makes me laugh as she literally calls me every day and if she does not manage to talk to me and I do not return her call she calls me or Alberto all stress to make sure that nothing has happened, bless her!.

Thank you all for all the time you spend with me as I have said many times it is the best medicine in the world...

Last weekend

When I get better after a few days bad I try to do things very fast and never learn to take things easy. Last weekend was not a difference but I am glad we did everything we did as it was a great family weekend.

Friday, went for a walk with Monica and then prepared lunch for Lorraine and myself so did not literally sit in the morning. I went with Alberto to San Jose in the afternoon to pick up his San Jose Half Marathon T-shirt and runner number and then went for another walk with Alberto and Ethan, I was exhausted after...have we learned the lesson?, nope...one day I will.

On Saturday we had Ethan's soccer game, he was so cute!, he score 4 goals and even if they say that at 4 year old games parents should not count goals or scores....I have to say that they won 8-1 and they have won all the games and.....he has scored on all of them!. He had a cold and was coughing, but he will not stay at home and waited 4 hours ready dress to go to the game, we were not going to stop him. Ana lives around the corner from where they were playing so we went for a coffee and we ended there for 3 hours.

While we were in Ana's house we rush home as Fiona was coming from the UK and had already landed, but we were taking Upe's daughters that were playing at Ana's house and by the time we left them in their house and made it to our house Fiona was already waiting outside. It was nice to see her and cannot wait to see her again as next time will be on my last chemo week in Nov!.

On Sunday we got up early and Fiona, Ethan and I went to see the San Jose Half Marathon so we could see both Alberto and Lorraine running it. It was cold but there are bands every mile and the one in mile 10 was quite nice so it was not too bad to wait there. Fiona and I were amazed first as how fast the people run, second how many over 60 year old were running it and third that some people were just chatting as they were running...and remember we were in mile 10!. We saw Alberto and he was very emotional to see us there, he come and gave us a kiss and carry on running, he finish at 1:48:02 and he said he could have done better but did not want to push himself as his hearth beat was high enough. I am so proud of him. We also saw Lorraine who was only 10 minutes behind Alberto and she was also looking good, she did a fantastic job doing just over two hours!. And the funny part is when we arrived we did not think about this and we left the car on the other side of where we were watching the race, the only way to get to the car was to cross through all the runners but you have to keep in mind that 14,000 people were in the race!. We waited for the right moment to run to the other side with the look of people thinking we were mad but we manage to get out.

We did brunch with Fiona on Sunday and then went to the movies after she left to meet people from work. We saw Dolphin tale and Ethan love the film!. After the movies we went to a runner shop so Alberto could buy a treat after the marathon, at the end Ethan and I bought something and Alberto did not!.

It was a great weekend of family and friends and by the end of it I have forgot all the symptoms of Taxol completely.



Taxol side affects

I have not written for some time which is good and bad, good means that I am busy and have not got time and bad because I have been told off for not updating how I am doing.

Taxol was painful but short, also as it was my first I did not know how to deal with it and I am hoping next week I will be able to manage better. The expectations were that I will have flu symptoms and fever, I never got any fever which was really good, I never got sick or have any nausea which was fantastic. The flu symptoms were brutal, I started on Tuesday night not being able to move my arms as both muscle and bones were too sore to be moved. On Wednesday I could not move period, it was impossible to move any muscle without being in agony, I told everyone that even my ears were aching and it was true!. I did cry to Alberto a few times on Wednesday feeling sorry for myself and asking myself the magic question: " why me?". But...we have got medication to treat the pain and I think I did not manage my medication very well. They told me to take Advil as much as needed and if it was not enough to call the doctor's office so they will send my pharmacy prescription for something stronger. Well I only took 200 mg of Advil every 4 hours and it was probably too low, I hate taking medication so I read the prescription really closely and follow the restriction of less than 6 pills every 24 hours. I think I should had taken 2 each time every 6 hours and might had helped me better. I will talk with Dr Chen next week to see how to control that pain next time.

By Thursday evening the pain was slowly leaving and I only had some join pain, specially in my hands and arms, that disappear over the weekend. Overall now looking back it was better than AC but will be even better if I can control that 48 hours of extreme pain.

A reminder to myself...Only 3 more to go!!.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Forks over Knives

Alberto told me he wanted to watch the film "Forks over Knives" with me so when we come back from the Oncologist clinic we watch it in Netflix. The film is about the investigation of several scientist, researches and surgeons and about the effect of nutrition on your health. I think I am still amazed about the things they were saying, even if I have already heard some of them before.

They went through History and the correlation on the years in different countries of the increase of cancer, diabetes and heart disease with the increase of dairy and meat and processed food in the diet. They walk through several studies done in China, US and other countries on this correlation and in all studies the relation is too strong to be ignored. They also discuss in detail several cancer and diabetes and other disease patient how the complete change of diet has changed his health completely.

One of the things my doctor told me and I think I have mentioned here before is that during my chemo treatment and during the next 5 years I have to avoid read meat completely and limited other meats and avoid Milk and milk related foods as much as possible. On this film they tell you exactly the same that people should reduce these food intake to a level of around 5% of your daily intake vs the current 20% on any American person.

If you have got a chance please watch this film, it might make you think twice about your daily food.

Taxol - 1st round

Here we are again at my less favorite places to be....the Oncologist clinic. My appointment was later than usual and will last around 4 to 5 hours so brought lunch with me as will be here for a while. First last night I had to take 5 pills of steroids before going to bed, that pills did not let me sleep much so I am a bit tired today. This morning at 6 am I had to take another 5 of the same pills. All these pills are given as Taxol could cause a really severe allergic reaction and these tablets suppose to avoid that reaction.'

Went to lab for blood work at 9:30, when I saw the results I could see words of "high" and "low" in same of the lines, like indicators that something was wrong. When I saw Dr Chen she confirmed that everything is fine that the ones high were a reaction from this morning medication, and the ones low could be also a reaction and even if they were not she is not concerned about it. The ones she want to see at the right levels are white and red cells as well as platelets and some others but every thing is fine. After this process I am going to become and expert on medical terms for sure....I have also lost 3 pounds which she is OK about, in the past normally people will put around 15 to 20 pounds during chemo, that was a combination of eating to help nausea and steroids. Now nausea medication is better and also I am really conscious on what I eat plus I do regular exercise of walking or Yoga so the mix of all of them are helping me getting in better shape and lose some pounds at the same time.

She has given me great news of what I can do and what to expect from Taxol. I can be more social as my immune system does not get so affected, still need to avoid sick people. I can start eating raw food like salads as far as they are super washed, really excited about it as I missing some really nice salads that Alberto prepares. She expects that I will get a fever and flu symptoms this week, fever could go up to 102 and last for 5 days but she said I should treat it like a flu with ibuprofen this time. Coming back tomorrow for my immune system shot and next week for my flu vaccination.

When I arrive to the chemo room I only had one chair free in the semi-private room, however as it was my first Taxol session and the nurses will not let me stay there as they wanted me in the main room to be monitored of any possible reaction. So they gave me all the premedications (anti-nausea, benadryl) on the back room and when they started Taxol they move me to the front room. They started really slow and every five minutes they increased it slowly, it was a long 3 hours with it and it gives your leg cramps which was really uncomfortable. I felt really sorry for another person who was in the room who even with nausea medication she was really sick and they could not give her anything else to control it. There was also a few young people in the room, no that I am happy for other people to be sick, just kind of helps you to think you are not by yourself.

We left the place around 3 pm and the nurse told me that I might have fever today but the normal will be for my worst day to be this Wednesday when fever will probably start and the aching of the muscle and bones. The fact that the injection they give you tomorrow does also make your bones hurt does not help, BUT in general people complain less about Taxol so looking forward to be much better than the bad days with AC. Also the fact that I might get some hair back is exciting....

OK....5 sessions down, ONLY 3 to go!!!, yupeee.....now is counting back status and can't wait for this to be finished!. I will start Herceptin after Taxol for a year every 3 week but the doctor says it is much easier and no much side effects, just the thought of being in that room every 3 weeks for a year makes me sick but hopefully will be easier...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Babyshower

Yesterday our friends Marcela and Monica arranged a beautiful babyshower for Miriam, it was nice to spend the afternoon with such a nice group. There were a few people from south Spain that I do personally think have got a really nice way of telling stories and making you laugh so I did laugh a lot all afternoon. Marcela and Monica did a fantastic job from decorating, to the party favors to everything you can imagine, Marcela is our party planner and if anyone needs one please let me know and I will give you her details as she is fantastic.

Each person was in charge of preparing something nice to eat so we ate Spanish omelette, empanadas, croquetas that my mom had left in the freezer, cheese and many other appetizers that were really nice....Ana also did Sangria that everyone said it was delicious but I did not drink, even if the doctor said that I can have a drink here and there I have taken the position of not drinking any alcohol if I can avoid it.

I think Miriam had a great time and liked all the presents, it will be her 3rd child but her other kids are older so she will have to remember to hold a new born again but I am sure the mummy instint will come really fast as soon as that baby is here. The rule was that everyone had to wear blue for the party but some people forgot, we only told Ana off but she looked so great with the pink dress that we let her go.

I have been trying to get photos from different events I go so my family and my friends in Spain can see that I am not looking that bad and I am looking great. Want to share some of these photos here and will try to make it a norm going forward.

Today we went to mass the three of us and then spent afternoon with good friends. Need to get ready for tomorrow but for some reason I am stress and a bit anxious. Before I go to bed tonight need to take 5 pills of steroids and tomorrow at 6 am another 5 as tomorrow is my first session of Taxol and could give you an alergic reaction, the pills suppose to avoid it but I might not be able to sleep tonight. Will let you know all about it tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do not want anyone to cry for me please

My parents left last Friday, they missed their connection flight in Frankfurt and waited 6 long hours for the next flight to Bilbao. But they were ok, I guess all those years of my mom working in Switzerland does help when she has to use her Italian or German reminders to communicate in a desperate situation.

When they arrived in the town this weekend my mom says that it takes her 1 hour to go to the bank or to arrive to the walking distance grocery store and that is because everyone stops her to ask her about me. She was saying that some of them do cry when they see her and they say I am sorry your daughter has got Cancer. OK.........I do really appreciate that people are concerned about me, I promise that I am complete overwhealmed about the amont of people who care about my health, the amount of people who are praying for me. Also, I am the first one who gets emotional sometimes and have a good cry when I need it, but I am determinate to combat and win this battle and that kind of reaction makes me feel like if people are taking this as a dead sentence. I am not dying and not expecting to do so for many years, do want to see my son grow and see his graduations, his soccer games and his wedding. I am definitely taking this Cancer as a wake up call in my life to take care of myself and to enjoy my family and my life as much as I can. So I am asking everyone to believe with me that I am going to be OK and walk through this process with me with the same believe, if you do not believe it I am sorry but I do not want you with me on this journey.

Alberto says so many times that I put a brave face to everyone, I am showing the brave Mila to everyone but people do not see my low moments, my good cry in front of the mirror or the days I can't move from bed. Well, I think everyone is entitle to have their bad moments but I think my bad ones are much less than the good ones and that is all thanks to all my closest friends and family who are next to me. Just believe with me and I will be fine...Love you all!.

Ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I have had a few great days of doing things with amazing friends and would like to share it with everyone. Last Saturday Marcela and Alberto were really nice to take Ethan with them for a playdate which it was really appreciated as I was still feeling quite tired. Alberto and I went for a walk and lay down to watch a film. For some reason last week it took me longer than expected to recover but sometimes we react to what they tell us, the doctor told me that I was going to be more tired than before last week and I guess I was, but not sure how much it was my mind being prepared to be more tired than previous sessions. We went to pick Ethan up and we end up staying outside their house with them and their neighbors for over an hour. I felt much better when I come back home, I am a true believer that a good friend company for 30 minutes is much better than any medicine any doctor can give you. And there is a handful group of them that are giving me so much energy and support that are helping much more than they can imagine.

On Sunday we went to Lorraine's for dinner, it is becoming a very regular dinner and I am starting to feel like if I am going to my sister's for Sunday dinner. I think I have said so many times this but I can't say them enough as how appreciated I am of all her support.

Monday I went to Santana Row for lunch with my Spanish group and the way it got arrange is so typical of us Spanish. Monica and Miriam get together once a month for lunch, they communicated through facebook that they were planning to get together and 7 of us just auto invited to join them. Great lunch and I meant to do a photo of all of us but at the end complete forgot to do it.... Tuesday, lunch at Marcela's, thanks again my dear friend!. Damaris made our favorites flauta's and I eat all the white flour that should eat for the week, the lunch was delicious. Both days I went home early afternoon and lay down in the sofa as I do get tired, plus the hot weather has been hard as well. And I will be cooking every day practising with my "must food", I did brown rice with vegetables for dinner yesterday and Broccoli casserole today and both were delicious....

Now today I decided to join a Yoga studio with Monica, I wanted to do it for some time but my left arm was not strong enough. But today we were so ready, we were there at 9 am for a Vinyasa class that we thought we could perfectly do it....even when the instructor asked us if we had done Yoga before and I answered her of course we have done it before....like telling her we know what we were doing. Well, it was very obvious after 10 minutes that the class was well too advanced for us but we were determinate to stay there for the 75 minutes. I can't remember last time I have sweat so much, Monica was saying that she was sweating more than when she goes running. There was one point during the class that both of us were so dizzy and feeling like we should leave the room as we were just not ready for the flow of postures and movements that these people were doing. But we were there until the end, we did the OHMMMMMMMM and we left the place like if someone had just hit our full body. BUT we will be back tomorrow for a "Gentle Yoga" class and hoping it will be better, we saw Pregnant women coming in to the next class which was the gentle so if we can't do it tomorrow we are in serious unfit situation and we might just have to join the meditation class only....

Oh forgot....Lorraine arrange cinema with a few friends last night and we went to see "The Help", great film that you should see. Based on the 1960 civil rights time when black people will work in white people houses as maids, their lives and how they manage to publish a book about their experiences. I thought it was a great film, thanks girls for coming out!.

Looking forward to Miriam's babyshower this Saturday, I feel is going to be a big party.....