About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Studies, support and girly stuff

I could either call this day 15, or C minus 14. Whatever. It's another day, and I think its going to be a good one.

Last night, I really focused on my arm stretches. I found a little American Cancer Society booklet with a few more. I'm not just doing the same ones every time, but mixing it up a bit. As long as I'm moving my arms in all directions, stretching the chest wall, I think I'll be in good shape. I was really encouraged last night as to how much I was able to do. I need to try and keep good posture throughout the day-it is so easy to hunch over. I suppose that goes for all of us, doesn't it?

As I expected, Eric came home yesterday and started researching adriamycin. He sent me a few links of some studies on it. I began reading them, but quickly began to feel panic rising in my gut. The bottom line of the study was good-outcomes for patients who left the adriamycin out were better than those who had it. Okay fine. What bothered me was how they described the patients. "Stage I, Stage II, or treatable stage III cancer," "node positive women," and the like were unsettling. It is scary to be in the most severe category in the study. I don't like to think of my life in terms of survival chances.

I've also come to the conclusion that reading cancer support group bulletin boards isn't a good thing for me. It's too bad, because in the past I've found such wonderful support from online support groups. When Olivier was an infant, I found Cleft-talk, a support group for parents with children with cleft lips or palates. Of course, ICAN was a big part of my life when preparing for my post-cesarean births. While I like the information I can glean from the breast cancer support boards, I am sometimes unsettled by other women's stories. Even their "stats." On paper, their stats are "better" than mine. Not all of them, but some. Their tumors were smaller. They were only a stage I or II. Little to no lymph node involvement. Mine feels like a mountain compared to theirs.

I know it could be worse. Heck, it can always be worse, right? At least I'm not a "triple negative." At least my PET scan came back clear and my cancer hasn't spread to my bones or other organs. (Although the chances of evil cancer cells floating around looking for a home is very high.) There are some women who are dealing with those issues as well. But its not a comfort.

I'm thinking a "live" support group will be what I need, rather than reading it online.

Enough of that. Let's get back to why today will be a good day. Mom and I are going to the gym, which always makes me feel better. I found out on Wednesday, that I can do the stair climber as long as I don't use my arms. Some people lean over the machine and rest their weight on their arms. First off, that's cheating! Other than that, I can't put the weight on my arms. So as long as I just climb, I'm good. It's killer, burns tons of calories and makes me sweat. Love it!

Today is also a day of preparations. Isabelle is turning 9 on the 9th. We are going to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, before my mother in law goes home. It works out perfectly because she is leaving early this afternoon for a slumber party for another friend, so we can decorate and surprise her when she gets home tomorrow. Mom is going to bring over her new ice cream maker and we will make home made rocky road ice cream. I get to bake a cake. Fun stuff.

I enjoy all of my kids' birthdays. I especially enjoy Isabelle's. It was such a triumph over adversity. My first homebirth, and my first vaginal birth after cesarean. It made me a stronger woman, and I need to remember those strong times right now as I go through another trial that will make me stronger too.

It is great having a daughter. I can't help but be a little sad that she now has a "family history of breast cancer." At least it makes her more aware of her risk. Bless her heart, I've seen her lift one arm in the air and feel around her armpit like she is doing a breast self exam. I'll find out next week the results of the BRCA genetic tests to see if I carry one of the two known breast cancer genes. Those results will impact her as well. We are looking forward to school clothes shopping-something I'd like to do before my first chemo on the 20th. She got a coupon in the mail from her favorite store, Justice. She's saved it for our special "girls shopping day." I'm hoping that mom, Isabelle and I can hit the mall and engage in some fun shopping therapy and a girls lunch.

My prayer requests today are the same as yesterdays. Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I am blessed by you all!

1 comment:

  1. Consider keeping your voice out there on those boards. There may be others who have lower stage stats...but your story will count for someone else...and of course, it counts for you. Think about those ICAN women who had had multiple cesareans, but kept coming back to the boards when the majority of us had only had one. And what an inspiration they were to us!

    Also, the way I see if for that study...there were 2 categories...the women who qualified and those who did not ...and you qualified....you were eligible for that study.

    Happy Birthday to your sweet daughter...