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


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!!.