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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reality check

I forgot to mention yesterday that I'm trying something new for the burning...aloe.  Internally and externally.

A friend from church who is a breast cancer survivor recommended a juice called "Aloe Gold."  You drink it 1-3 times a day in 2 ounce shots.  It is pretty nasty at first, but I've gotten used to it.  I also bought a couple of aloe plants.  Each day I take a couple inches of aloe leaf in a baggie with me to the radiation office. In the changing room, I split it open with my fingernail and rub it on my ever pinker skin.  I like using the real thing, not some frangranced lotion formula.  The only drawback is that it smells like body odor. Really! It took me a couple days to realize that it wasn't ME that was stinking, but it was the aloe!  (Yes, I shower, but I've been hesitant about deodorant since my diagnosis. Besides, I'm not supposed to use any on the left side anyway.)

I thought I had successfully avoided the radiation doctors' scale this week. But today, they had me step on it. If readers recall, they had me step on it the first Monday after New Years at my first appointment. I was shocked at what it said, even though I knew that I should only pay attention to MY scale, weighing in at the same time each week and all of that. But it did spur me into counting calories and increasing the exercise time.  Today I had dropped 6 pounds according to their scale. I was pretty stoked at that and made a comment about how it was "moving in the right direction."  As I was in the changing room, the tech commented that I shouldn't be "dieting" during treatment.  He said that the treatment calculations were based on me being a particular weight and if I lost too much, the radiation treatment wouldn't be right.  I asked him if I had gone too low. He did a few clicks on his computer that had my record up. He said I had lost 3% of my body weight and that 10% was the limit. But really, he would prefer me not to lose any more at all.  He joked that I could use it as an excuse to go to In and Out Burger every day.

Well, I'm not going to do that! I figure gaining weight would be just as bad as losing too much.  So I'll focus on maintenance rather than losing. Besides, I figure the 6 pounds just reflected weight I put on over the holidays...after the radiation mapping in mid-December.

So after all that angst over my weight, I came home and decided to catch up on the blogs that I follow.  I was sad to learn that the author of one blog I follow, Daria's "Living With Cancer" had taken a turn for the worse today. She has metastatic breast cancer and had been on a clinical trial after exhausting all of her chemotherapy options. She has been having a lot of problems lately and was very close to being taken out of the trial. Today, her husband came onto the blog to post that she is unable to post to her blog anymore. She is in the hospital in a lot of pain. It doesn't look good.

Hearing the news made all of my issues seem so silly and unimportant. So what if I've gained or lost a few pounds? I'll be honest, it has been hard for me to follow Daria's blog. Early on in my journey, before I knew the extent of my own cancer, I read some bulletin boards where some women with metastatic cancer had posted. It was just way too close to home, and it scared me to death. It still does. That night back in June was one of my darkest. That could be me.  It still could. But even though its hard, I have followed Daria for the past several months. So to find out her condition really is a reality check. Breast cancer can, and does, kill.  I am so sad for Daria and pray for her comfort and peace. I am sad for everyone with advanced cancer. It just stinks. I yearn for the time when there is no disease, no tears, and no death.

Please take some time to pray for Daria and her husband, Don.


  1. yeah....ignore the scale til about 2 months after all treatment is over because your body reacts to it often by retaining water...once the chemo is out of your body you will probably lose like 10 lbs like I did almost overnight it was wild. I got them back quickly after having my ovaries removed thanks to my new non existant metabolism, but I digress...hugs to you!

  2. Tonya, Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I so appreciate feedback. I just came from Daria's blog and I was shocked and saddened. It does put things into perspective pretty fast doesn't it? Good luck with the ongoing radiation.