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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stumbling out of the ditch

Round three, day five.  I'm doing pretty well, all things considered.

Yesterday I felt tired and like I was in a fog.  But I wasn't as tired as I was last round-I think taking it easy on Sunday afternoon helped a lot.  What I do lose is my patience.  It's gone right now and isn't in sight yet.  I'm embarrassed to admit a few outbursts on my part over the past few days.  Not very loving of me.

If it was just about taking care of myself and riding out the chemo train, it would be much easier.  But dealing with a 2 year old with opinions, demands, and endless contradictions (up/down, yes/no), is what is hard.  Thankfully, mom has been here for the past 2 days and its been wonderful.  I think a 2 year old can drive the healthiest mom nuts at times.  Throw chemo in the mix, and it is a bigger challenge.  I thank God for the grace He has given me to hold it together as well as I have.  I'd be a mess otherwise.

I started my Cipro week this morning.  As I took the first pill, I noticed the label warned that it may cause dizziness.  Ah-ha!  I remembered last round on Tuesday (the day I start the Cipro) being dizzy at the gym.  An hour or so later when I was walking the dog I had a few moments of light-headedness.  I realize now that it is from the Cipro and to be aware of it, especially on the day that I start the medication and my body is getting used to it.

Another byproduct of the chemo, at least this first week is what I call "chemo brain."  I've had "placenta brain" and "milk brain" before when I was pregnant and nursing.  Now I get to live with chemo brain.  Its a little bit of a fog.  I also have trouble making decisions or problem solving.  My friends asked me this morning how old I would be when Jean-Marc was in 4th grade.  It would take some serious mental power to figure that out right now, maybe even a pen and paper!  Just let me go with the flow, please.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a total waste of brainpower.  I just don't want to expend the mental energy if its not really that important.

I have managed to keep moving, physically since chemo.  I was going to let it slide yesterday.  It was rainy and dark in the morning.  After dropping Isabelle off at school, I realized that if I didn't get some endorphins flowing, I was going to be depressed.  With the grey weather, being tired and feeling kind of yucky, being depressed would have really made the day a bleak one.  I did a 30 minute cardio workout on Exercise TV. It was just enough to break a sweat and get the blood flowing.  This morning, I went for a walk with my friends and we even did the "big" hill.

Keeping moving is key for me.  I think that is a big factor in my treatment. There are studies that show exercise can reduce fatigue in chemotherapy.  But even beyond that, it is a mental thing for me.  If I can keep exercising, I am "strong."  If I get to the point where I'm not exercising, I'm wimping out and letting the cancer win.  Not if I can help it!  I do less-intense workouts at the beginning of the chemo cycle.  By the third week, I hope I am back in "normal" shape and ready to ride the cycle again.  Last round, I was doing my Jillian DVD a week after chemo.  We'll see if I can get there this time.  No pressure!

My prayer requests:

  • That I continue to pull out of the chemo ditch.  That every day get better in terms of my energy level, patience and overall mood. 
  • That I do not suffer from new side effects.  That the ones I do have (a little heartburn, chemo brain, metallic mouth) be manageable.
  • That I do not develop lymphedema in my left arm.  I've been doing my manual drainage massage each day to stay on top of it.  It will be a lifelong issue. 


  1. Tonya just keep doing the best you can do. It's that sometimes that is the hardest to accept. God is helping you through this and I know your mom and family are doing all they can. The strenght GOD gives you everyday is sufficient and embrace that and your beautiful family. Always thinking of you and praying for you and your family. xoxoTrish

  2. Hey, we could not even figure out that fancy math and we were not on "Chemo Brain". You are doing awesome and it was great to walk again yesterday.
    Stay strong and let us help when we can...Sally