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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Catching up to me?

I think this chemo thing is starting to catch up to me.  The good news is that with only one treatment left, I think I can outrun it in the long haul.  Thank God that I didn't feel this way a couple months ago.

I'm more tired physically.  In past rounds, at this point in time I feel normal.  I'm kicking butt at the gym.  However, yesterday at the gym, I noticed that it was much harder to do lower levels on the Stair master and elliptical than I usually do.  I use a heart rate monitor, so I know if I'm at a range where I am exerting a good bit or not.  I got up to 85% of my heart rate 2 levels lower than before, even during chemo.   This morning, I did a 30 minute cardio workout, (Cindy Whitmarsh's "Less is More" cardio),  off of Exercise TV and it was a challenge.  I did it and then some, but it was a challenge.

There are other physical reminders too.  My nails have these lines on them that don't go away. Most annoying are my eyes.  They are constantly watering.  I may have caught an infection in my eyes.  I'm not sure.  They were really red yesterday and they burn.  I also feel spasms in my eyes and eyelids. The tears then dry and leave salty deposits around my eyes.  In the morning, my eyes are crusted shut.  Gross, isn't it?  I don't know if all of these are side effects of chemo or something else going on.   I was hoping to put off an eye exam until after all of my treatment, but I may see if I can get into an exam in December.  I've gained a couple pounds too, which doesn't make me very happy.  Of course with Thanksgiving, many people do.  But in reality, it has been creeping up on me a little by little for the past couple months.

Mentally, I just don't "feel" like myself completely.  I'm in a kind of constant "zoning" state.  Things just feel weird all the time.  I'm a bit tired all the time.  I spent some time this afternoon just vegging out in front of the television watching a great chick flick-"Letters to Juliet."  That felt great, and I think I'll be doing more of that in the coming few weeks.

When I feel off like this, I try to at least look normal on the outside. I'm an "undercover" cancer patient.  With my eyes, makeup is not my friend. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot this morning for church.  I'm missing a lot of my eyebrows, but I can fill those in with makeup.  I noticed my eyelashes are much thinner as well.  I was happy to come home and take the eye makeup off.  I also wore the wig.  That helps, especially when I catch a glimpse of my own reflection. Especially since I have to wear my glasses.  The downside is that the wig can give me a headache and itches.  At home, it suffers the same fate as the eye makeup...it's OFF!

I'm not complaining here, I'm really not.  I like to think of this post as more of one documenting what I'm feeling like physically and mentally.  I know I am blessed to have made it this far as well as I have.  Only one more round to go.  I plan on getting exercise as best I can this week.  It's one of my mental "things" that I want to keep on doing to show cancer that its not going to get me.  Like I said, it may be gaining on me, trying to catch up.  But I'm going to beat it.

I'm told that these physical issues go away after chemotherapy.  I sure hope so.  It's hard to imagine ever feeling normal again.  I follow another blog about fitness for cancer survivors, written by a cancer survivor and physical trainer.  She mentioned in one of her posts about being so fatigued during chemo that she could barely drag herself to the mail box on some days. Now she runs half marathons and climbs mountains.   My hair will grow back.  (Unless the tamoxifen causes it to be too thin, but that is something for another post.)  My nails will go back to normal.  My eyes will get better.  I will be done with chemotherapy.

It won't be a minute too soon.

Prayer Requests:

  • That my eyes heal.  I don't mind the watering so much.  But the spasms and burning are a pain.  I'm going to call Kaiser tomorrow to see if I can get into see an eye doctor. Pray that I can get in at a good time.  I don't know if it would be best to wait until after chemo or get in as soon as I can.  Pray that God will give me the appointment that works best with my other medical issues. 
  • That my energy levels stay up.  The kids go back to school tomorrow, so I'm back to the grind as well. 
  • That this last round of chemo be effective and kill off any remaining cancer cells in my body. 
  • That my spirits stay positive.  It is so easy to get depressed when you have physical pain and medical issues. It is toxic and I don't want to be depressed and negative.  For me, its a downward spiral and I'd soon be dwelling on cancer, recurrence and nasty stuff.  I just don't want to "go there."   Pray that I don't forget to "look up" to my Savior and remember that HE is bigger than all of this.  That I be reminded to seek shelter under His wings, and not lean on my own understanding. 

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