Diagnosis, Course of Treatment, and Experiences

LateMy Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in early March 2015. Two tumors – one is 1 cm and the second is 5 mm in size – close to one another. They are Her2 positive. I had no idea that anything was wrong; I never felt them, nor my doctor during my checkup.  The tumors were found during my first mammogram, which I was recommended to take because I was now 40.


My Course of Treatment

My course of treatment-chosen by my team of doctors is chemotherapy (docetaxol, carboplatin, Herceptin® and Perjeta®) administered 6 times – 3 weeks between doses. Following the completion of chemotherapy I’ll wait approximately 1 month to have the chemo clear my body and then have surgery.  Following surgery I will continue with Herceptin® and Perjeta® treatments (administration every 3 weeks) for a year.

Given the fact that it is at the young age of 40 that I have been diagnosed with Her2 positive stage 1 breast cancer, I need to follow up with my oncologist about what type of surgery to have – there are options to discuss and decisions still to be made.   Fun times….


Treatment Schedule

#1 -Thursday, March 26, 2015

#2 -Thursday, April 16, 2015

#3 -Thursday, May 7, 2015

#4 – Thursday, May 28, 2015

#5 – Thursday, June 18, 2015

#6 – Thursday, July 9, 2015

Surgery (double mastectomy with reconstruction part 1,expanders) – Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#1 – immunotherapy (Herceptin)- Thursday, August 27th, 2015

#2 – immunotherapy (Herceptin)- Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Immunotherapy treatments to continue every 3 weeks with Herceptin only, until ~ April 1, 2016. I’ll post the dates as I complete them.

I opted to provide my treatment schedule in case anyone wants to cross check what I’m blogging about and how I felt (my body’s roller coaster ride) during my course of chemotherapy versus their own course of treatment. Everyone is different. I only hope that by sharing my experiences, that perhaps it will help someone else what to expect should they or a friend or family member unfortunately be given a similar diagnosis.


I am not you. You are not me. Here’s an amazing reference book.

As a disclaimer – just because this is the course of treatment that my doctor’s have prescribed for me does not mean that it is necessarily right for you. A friend of mine who is a medical doctor gave me a fantastic reference book which is extremely well written and easy to understand. It’s called “The Breast Cancer Survival Manual, a Step-by-Step Guide for Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer” by John S. Link, M.D. with James Waisman, M.D. and Nancy Link, R. D.  I highly recommend this book to anyone in a similar situation.


Chemo #1 – March 26, 2015

My first day of chemo started with an 8:45 am appt with my oncologist. After meeting with him I moved into the chemo administration room and got comfortable – with my Mother along for support. By 9:45 am I had the 2 Tylenol and the first IV bag began to drip into my port. The pre-meds go quickly usually taking only 20-30 mins. One of them was Benadryl – and following its administration I definitely felt tired as they said I would. When we got to the heavy duty chemo drugs those administrations took closer to 90 min each. My day ended somewhere around 3:30 when they completed flushing my port and then filling it with a solution to keep it from clotting. I was home by 4 pm.


My First Days After Chemo

I had scheduled my chemo for a Thursday and had worked it out with my manager to work from home the days following my chemo appointments.  This was a schedule recommended by my HR colleague who’d been through a stage 3 breast cancer scare and survived. She’s an amazing support and helped me set up this schedule as my normal routine.

My battle was with nausea – which was not unexpected of course. I’ve always been one to avoid taking a pill as simple as an Advil® unless I really, really need one – or my husband simply walks over and hands it to me for my own good (he’s never been wrong when he’s done this). After having so many different chemicals pumped into my system in the previous days, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was take one more pill that promised “dizziness” and the “inability to drive a car” while I was on it. Not only no, but HECK no! So, I did my best and tried to find the magic to handling my nausea. I never got bad enough to want to throw up (my doctor had told me that was NOT acceptable and to contact his office if that happened), but the nausea was there and it soured my mood and just wasn’t pleasant overall. I did manage to find some tricks to managing the nausea and I did get it (and the funky metallic taste) to go away for hours, but in the end it still came back (ebbing and flowing like the tide), and eventually I gave in and took a pill (mind you not until Monday morning). You have no idea how happy I was when it didn’t send my brain into wild loopiness, and instead left me clear-headed and free of nausea! Ok. I admitted it. The pill worked. This one I’d learn to take a LOT sooner.


On Being Tired and Still Making it to the Gym

Chemo treatments are compounding. I’d been warned that the first would be easier and that I’d notice the hit on my body much more by treatments number 3 and higher. I had been very tired on Friday, the day right after my first treatment. I worked from home but required a 1.5 hr nap. On Saturday and Sunday I also had 1.5-2.0 hr naps in the afternoons. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday (the day after I took the anti-nausea pill) that I felt good enough to brave the gym and return to my Crossfit class.

The first workout I completed after chemo #1 was the workout “Fight Gone Bad” on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 – a known hard one I’d completed before when I was healthy– so I scaled considerably – not wanting to push any heavy weights – more wanting to make sure I completed all of the movements and check at the end to see how, in the new chemo world order, my body would fare. This is the workout that was perscribed on March 31st at my gym. I completed it along with the rest of my class.

Tuesday night I slept soundly, very well – I always do when I work out. I woke up and considered the gym but I could feel that my body needed to rest. So I read instead and went back to sleep instead of to the gym.

Wednesday and Thursday proved to be great days. My nausea was gone, and I felt like my old self getting into my old groove at work. Thursday morning, April 2, 2015 – I’d even woken up at the usual time for catching my 5 am class and I found myself in bed thinking about what workout I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to make it short and sweet – and to keep away from the class since I was likely closer to the nadir part of my cycle – when my counts would be lower and I’d be more susceptible to getting sick with my chemo-weakened immune system.

 April 15, 2015 – Update

Tomorrow I have chemo session #2. For me, what I learned from the first session is that it’s pretty much slow train trip down a huge hill into a big cave. The train continues on at its slow pace and eventually you come out of the tunnel and find yourself at the top of the hill where the sun is shining.

What really happened to me (reminder: “Everyone is different”): I got my drugs dumped into my I.V. For the first 3 days I needed a 2 hr nap mid-day; I was tired. The first week was the worst for symptoms showing up and being their worst. After the first week or so it all started to fade away slowly – enough so that after about 10 days I actually felt pretty good!! But – this when I had to watch our for the nadir period (defined: the lowest point) when my counts went low and even if I felt great, I was highly susceptible to getting sick – so I had to be on my most cautious behavior. The last 3 or 4 days I felt as strong as I did before I was ever administered any chemotherapeutic agents (but I was still scaling workout weights but I was able to actually push a bit, which was unexpected).  Now – with #2 being tomorrow – it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Will I have the same cycle or, since we’ve all heard that it compounds itself – making it harder and harder to come back, will my train take longer to come out of the tunnel this time?

April 16, 2015 – Chemo #2 Administered

April 17, 2015 – Neulesta Shot

Because my numbers were so low for so long after Round #1, my Doctor prescribed me the Neulesta shot. It’s given 24 hrs after the chemo and helps keep my bone marrow working hard to make more white blood cells. If I have it all correct, it doesn’t decrease change how low my numbers go in my counts, but instead shortens the duration of days that they are low.

Along with this I picked up another pill for 4 or 5 days, 1 x day. Seems the Neulesta shot makes people’s bones sore putting the bone marrow into over drive. Folks have figured out that for some reason taking Claritin, or an equivalent, helps decrease any bone pain brought on by the shot. So – I’m back to a pill a day for the next few days. If it works, why not?!

April 19, 2015 – Sunday

Following this treatment all I can say is that I’m tired. More so than I was for round #1. Sleep and more sleep is all I want. To do anything else – whether it is read a book or try to blog, seems to be a bit too much to ask those first few days after. Trying to be better with all of my lessons learned. Water. Exercise (treadmill, uphill walking). Taking the immodium AD and anti-nausea pills. Symptoms show up by Sunday for me, 3 days or so after the therapy. They include (if you don’t want the details, stop reading now): diarrhea (handled with Immodium AD), metallic taste in my mouth (handled with soymilk or rice milk (horchata)), tiredness (sleep, sleep and sleep some more), and of course, my “favorite” – the burnt tongue feeling – where everything tastes funny, as if it has lost its flavor because I’ve burnt my tongue on some hot liquid though I haven’t.


April 21, 2015 – Tuesday

Think I’m finding the rhythm of the treatment. Got my brain and wind back about 96 hrs after treatment (Monday afternoon) and made it to the gym on Tuesday morning (today). Feeling decent – still have to watch out for side effects – usual suspects, but they are tolerable and manageable.


April 23, 2015 – Thursday

Feeling really strong and really good considering I’m 2 rounds into my 6 round battle with breast cancer. With round 2 I feel like I know what to expect from things but, judging by my need and want to work out more, I’m thinking that the little cold I had during round 1 was a huge influence on how tired I felt.  Or – perhaps I’m feeling better and stronger now since I had the neulesta shot 24 hrs after chemo this time. So hard to tell what’s caused by the chemo and what was the cold on the first round and what’s caused by not having a cold and having an additional shot – but feeling my energy and drive to do more this go ’round – I seriously think the cold had me more than the chemo did.  This is good news!  Been told time and time again that the treatments are compounding and by the 3rd I’ll get kicked on my tush – so far a good dose of positive thoughts, staying active, staying hydrated (!) and feeling the amazing support from friends, family and colleagues is making me feel stronger and more empowered than ever. Well, that and eating a ton of delicious carbs to fend off the nausea! (Yes, I might have spent yesterday at work eating amazing chocolate chip-peanut butter-M&M cookies every hour or two throughout the ENTIRE day. Yup. I did. Not ashamed of it. It worked on the nausea!)


April 28, 2015 – Tuesday

Feeling more tired – less energy than I had earlier in this round for workouts. Wondering how long that magical neulesta shot lasts and if I’m feeling more tired because it is done doing what it needs to do. I’ll have to ask the doc about that. Fighting a bit with my diet. Eating more carbs since they keep the nausea away but can tell I’m putting on a few pounds around my mid-section. Fine and good but sometimes I eat a meal and then feel so stuffed – and I realize I’m back to a lot more carbs and they don’t sit as well with me. Trying to find a balance of keeping the very mild nausea at bay  (this is a level below feeling green in my book -just annoying but no where near enough for a pill) and eating healthy for my body. Think vegetables might be the answer (eating more of them in addition to the carbs to settle my stomach). I never eat enough of them. Perhaps a stop at a grocery story would be good for me. Have a check up today with the doc to look at my counts. If they are good then I’ve got a few stops to make on the way home.

I miss the gym. Miss the support. The workouts there have weights which I don’t have at home. Gets in my head that it’ll be too much for me to keep up if I don’t get back every so often. Have to keep positive and strong thoughts in my mind. Need to wear something comfortable and cute today to keep my mood and spirits high since I’m not feeling so chipper for some reason.


May 1, 2015 – Friday

Monday and Tuesday of this week were definitely downers. I was off and had lost my spunk a bit. Tuesday I had an appointment with my Doc to check my counts and they were good. I was out of the nadir period. I also spent some time on Wednesday evening with a support group. With my Doc and also the support group I got into messy details about my options and for lumpectomy or double mastectomy and reconstructing my chest. I asked the questions. I wanted to know the answers but, in the end, it didn’t help my blah mood.

The weather was amazing and beautiful. I realized I needed to get myself out of my funk so I took Thursday off to tend to myself and it really worked. It was 100% me time by myself and loved it. I just needed to re-energize myself and think about anything but the cancer and my choices and what my choices meant for my body and the future of seeing myself in the mirror or being with my husband.

Today one of my friends at work let me know that she thought I was definitely loosening up a bit at work and showing more of myself. Specifically she was referring to the way I’ve been dressing – which has changed dramatically since I’ve had to find ways to feel feminine without my long, thick brown hair cascading down my back. I’ve gone towards my artsy roots that I miss from high school when I used to paint. I’ve gone towards things that are new and fun colored (purchased fun, comfortable sky-blue Keen shoes that are so functional that I can wear them around town and also chase after my daughter without missing a beat!). Purchased a new purse that is cute and fun and so functional! My theory is if you have a hat, you need a scarf. It’s like an extra added distraction to keep the eyes away from the head – so you notice more of me and less of what’s missing. You see my smiling bright eyes and my lovely Fancy Nancy (Mary Kay) coated- lips (somehow no hair has translated into needing to wear lipstick all the time – another way to feel feminine!) and you then see my adorable hat and color coordinated scarf and outfit and see my crossfit curves and see the strength that I feel. It works, it really does for me. No holding back and hiding. Just owning who I am.


May 8, 2015 – Friday

Now that I know what to expect, treatment #3 went fairly well. Even today as I sit, working from home, I’m doing what I  know works to feel good (took my nausea pill, staying hydrated, drinking soymilk, eating a few crackers when I feel a little off between meals). So far so good. Feel like a pro now. Bit tired, as usual and as expected but there’s just too much going on to get time to rest (calls to doctors – hopefully hooking up with a new surgeon today, cat veterinary issues, few key work things to attend to, catching up with friends about this whole unplanned life deviation). All in all, feel that I’m doing pretty good considering the chaos in the last few days.

May 12, 2015 – Tuesday

I’m bouncing back as I expected, and hoped I would. Friday evening I was really tired. Saturday I had some unexpected energy (I did go walking on the treadmill!) and Sunday – no walking on the treadmill as I felt like I’d been run over and was dead tired. I did manage to get a little gardening done when I wasn’t horizontal but it wasn’t for long. Monday I was off, as expected and by afternoon it was clearing up. This morning the alarm went off and I bounded out of bed ready for the gym!  So frustrated with my diet and how my mid-section is feeling these days – fluffy and soft. Ugh!  No happy balance exists right now, just moving forward trying everything in moderation….carbs are just killing me!!  Off to the gym I go!!


May 15, 2015 – Friday

Lately I have been really frustrated with the decision to make, still am but now have a plan. (A good plan always puts me in control and thus, in a better mood.) Have appointments with my OB-GYN and my Radiologist (the woman who diagnosed me) to discuss my decision. My OB-GYN I’ve been with since I’ve been in town (coming up on 11 years) and the Radiology Doc – she is around my age and super cool. I trust these two women and it’ll be nice to have their women/medical opinions to help me settle things. I am still changing my mind daily about my decision….


May 28, 2015 – Thursday

Number 4 is over and done with! 2 more to go!

Today went fairly well. My run up to the chemo wasn’t as ideal. Picked up a small viral cold and experienced allergies – so the Monday before this chemo I stayed home to rest and sleep. Did me good!  Still fighting allergies but that’s normal  for where I live.

New side effects after treatment #3 – 1) Chemo Brain. I sometimes cannot think of a word when speaking. I usually get it eventually, but it can  take a few minutes or sometimes an hour to recall the word that I am thinking of. Frustrating. 2) Neuropathy. This one showed up about May 17th. First on one toe, then on all 10 toes and all 10 fingers. After  a week it faded a bit so it wasn’t as bad- more annoying vs. functionally effecting me the week before. They (being the doctors) say that most if not all of this should go back to normal once I’m done with chemo. I’ll believe it when I see it since “everyone’s is different”.


June 2, 2015 – Tuesday

Slept through most of the weekend. Really don’t recall any of it but being horizontal on the couch or on the bed all day Saturday and Sunday. Monday I was upset to find out that even though I was ready to go to work my nausea was strong (I had taken the pill but it failed for some reason) ….and, I was still exhausted. So I stayed home from work in the morning and slept for 4 hours, then went to work. Shouldn’t have gone. Was emotional. Was sad. Had folks in the office that normally aren’t on site and I was leveling them with “I have breast cancer” right after they said “Hi” and gave me that funny look that says…”I see there is something different with you now”. Yeah.  I should have stayed home.

I am happy to report that my bounce back began in the afternoon on Monday and by 7 pm I was back to where I had expected to be!  and this morning – I was feeling FANTASTIC! And I went to the gym!! Yup – something about 96 hrs seems to do it. This chemo had started an hour or so later than the first one since my doctor’s appointment was later, also I had goofed and completely spaced and forgot to take one of my dexamethasone pills the day before….. either way, #4 was a little harder. But I’m back now and that’s what counts! 🙂

June 18, 2015 – Wednesday – 5th chemo

June 19, 2015 – Thursday

Usually I bound into my chemo treatments exuding positivity. Thoughts going through my head such as “I feel just as great as I did before you started treating me! I’m doing great!”. Yeah, it was easier back then. Not so much now.

Now I feel I’m really in the lull in the marathon when you start questioning yourself – can I really do this? How can I continue to go on? You say to yourself, THIS SUCKS! I want to stop. I want my life back.

and then I realize that’s not an option. Only one way to go, forward. So you keep walking with a little less  DAMN CHEMO BRAIN!! Cannot think of the word I want here, oh wait, here it is….  a little less spring in my step.

That’s what I mean. The side effects that I feel I’ve been handling pretty well – almost gotten used to in their cyclical nature (diarrhea, bloody nose, burnt tongue sensation, tiredness and nausea) are doing ok but the newer side effects that have shown up more from treatments #3 and #4 (neuropathy, chemo brain and discolored nails) are slowly getting worse and more noticeable, thus exceedingly more frustrating as I feel myself moving farther from who I was to the low of how far the treatments will take me before I will begin my ascent back up the walls of the cavern to regain my mind, my physical beauty and the physical strength that I had before. My own personal Iron Man Marathon so to speak. I know I can do it but it’s a very slow, daily battles filled with many seemingly small, innocuous mini-battles which all add up.

Over the course of the treatments my diet has gone wonky at times. The house is currently filled to the brim with fresh oranges, berries (all kinds – fresh picked strawberries, tay berries, blue berries and more, along with fresh cherries). Every small choice I made – drinking water constantly to stay hydrated, what food I put into my mouth, what exercise I do – it all adds up. I’m fully supplied right now, fully supported to make the right decisions today. Having provisions gives me strength.

It has just gotten harder more recently since it’s harder to hide chemo brain during conversations. It harder to hide my finger nails which are now hideously turning brown and are in all honestly (I’ve been told) may fall off before I get to the end of my treatments. Yeah – hide THAT hideousness – band-aids on 2 or more fingertips.

On top of all of that it’s really is like an Iron Man – 3 phases of the race. My first phase is nearly complete – now that I’m in the groove I’ll have to adjust and work through my transition point, and look for my new rhythm as I continue to move along in the journey. One step at a time. One decision at a time.

Last chemo is July 9th. Surgery will be early August – double mastectomy followed by reconstruction. Ouch! Still feels archaic in this day and age to find 2 small tumors, (1.0 cm and 0.5 cm) in size – treat with chemo and still go for completely gutting and rebuilding my chest. I really didn’t want this to be my decision – I wanted to believe in the science but in all honestly, the science just isn’t there yet. Every time I read about Her2 + tumors I hear about how aggressive they are. Yeah. Take no chances. Remember, you cannot go back, only forward.

Some day women of my age will not need to take such drastic measures to ensure that they will still be around in 40+ more years – living the life they want. I intend to be there and, evidently without a sagging chest! Just have to focus on the silver linings – my diet and exercise routines, they are officially routines for LIFE. Baby steps. The smallest decisions every day really do make a huge difference.

July 9th, 2015 – Thursday – 6th (and final!) chemo

July 10th, 2015 – Friday

The 6th treatment was a little different from the first 5. The doc dropped off the Taxotere due to what I was telling him about my neuropathy. He didn’t want to push it to the point of no return on some of the numbness and in the last week, week and a half, I’ve definitely lost the ability to do some things. I think it has mostly been due to the issues with my nails trying to fall off.

When my nails started to become severely discolored and loosen from my finger tips about a week after my last treatment, I started to knock them and scream out in awful streams of profanity.  A few days of that led me to not only change how I physically picking things up and grabbing things but to also trim them a lot shorter and start using the liquid sealant on my fingertips (the one that comes for sealing up cuts on fingers – includes a little antiseptic and then seals cuts).  This multi-prong approach has kept my nails on, kept them short and allowed me to function without the strings of profanity for a week or so now.  (well, I did have a small knock yesterday but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been).

My numbess/tingling can still be felt in my toes and into the balls of my feet a bit, and in my finger tips and up to the second knuckle on my fingers. I just got off the treadmill this morning and oddly felt like there was tingling going up the center of my feet as well. I hadn’t noticed this as  much before but I have had times where, at night lying in bed, I have felt a little tingling on my thighs. Just as well we held off on the Taxotere. It’ll be interesting to see how I fare this weekend. I have gotten used to expecting certain activity and non-activity – wondering how much of it was Taxotere related. Guess I’ll find out.

Without the Taxotere I also was told to skip the dexamethasone – the steroid I was taking the day before, day of and day after every treatment. It was prescribed to help my body handle the Taxotere side effects. So, yeah! One less pill. Skipping the Taxotere dose (~1 hr) also saved me some time at the actual appointment as well, though during my 6 treatments they changed the dosing and now required a 30 min waiting period between the administration of 2 of the drugs – which 2 I cannot recall. So, all in all I only got out of the treatment about 30 min earlier than I did the first treatment.

My eyes are still tearing quite a lot – all of the time, causing me to keep  tissues handy at all times. Wondering if it is allergies or the taxotere. We should know in a bit here….possibly solve another mystery….so far, today – the tearing is still with me.

Quick check-in at this stage….


pre- chemo: weight – 139.3 pounds; last chemo – 144.0 pounds

pre-chemo: long brown hair; last chemo – nice peach fuzz for a small percentage of my hair follicles

pre-chemo: shaving legs, armpits etc every few days, last chemo -when’d I last shave? dunno – maybe a month ago? (ah yes – a silver lining!)

pre-chemo: nails healthy, strong, pink. length just over the tips of my fingers; last chemo – cut super short, yellowed some with brown splotches – and using liquid skin to seal the tips to my fingers and help prevent knocking the nails off the finger tips by accident

pre-chemo waistline: most of my clothing was very lose at the waist, from cross fit I’d lost the tire around my mid-section and was loving the way my body felt and looked; last chemo – the tire came back during the treatment – it is where the 5 pounds is – well that and in my thighs which pre-chemo did NOT touch and now do when I’m running.

Pre-chemo: diet was pretty good – low carbs, lots of fruit, smaller meals; last chemo – with nausea picked up a lot of carbs to keep it in check. Can still see my weight fluctuate a few pounds just on diet alone from week to week.

Pre-chemo hormones: normal periods; last chemo – last time I had a period was a few weeks after my first chemo. Haven’t seen one since. No one knows if or when they might come back. Mother went through her menopause in her early 50s. It’s a toss up to see what my body will do. Even without the monthly cycle my hormones are definitely all over some days. Post -chemo it’ll be interesting to see if the depression that was always coming in the week of a treatment will come again – this time as I fear the surgery…. I would expect that it will. I’ll focus on one day at a time and stay strong as I can.

Pre-chemo workouts: with the 5 am class at cross fit; last chemo – at the gym on my own. The goals I’d set out for myself – things I didn’t want to lose the ability to do at the gym I was able to maintain. Here’s what I can still pull off…

1. Handstands. I do these facing the wall and walk my feet up. I wanted to be able to maintain 1 30 second handstand. Day of my last treatment I did 3 x 30 second handstands facing the wall with ~30 second rest between them.

2. 2:30 plank (30 front, 30 sec side, 30 sec front, 30 sec side, 30 sec front). Can still do it!

3. run 1.0 mile. Pre-treatment I was in the neighborhood of 9:15-9:30 for 1 mile. Yesterday I ran 1 mile in 10:19. Totally acceptable!!

4. 10 wall balls with a 10 lb ball. Yesterday my workout included 3 sets of 10 wall balls with a 10 lb ball. It was slow and often times I didn’t catch the ball (for fear of hitting my port, which I was afraid of the one or two times I forgot and did catch the ball in my chest). But I still did it. 6 lb ball is easy to throw up and catch the standard way.

5. 10 Kettle bell swings with 3/4 pood weight. I completed this yesterday – work out had 3 sets of 10 KB swings of this weight and earlier in the week my workout included 3 sets of 5 KB swings with a 1 pood weight!

6. tabata sit ups – 10 sit ups a round – so 80 sits ups in 4 minutes. Can still do it. 20 seconds of situps and 10 seconds of rest – repeating 8 times.

What I did lose was pull ups, anything with any over head bar (for fear of hitting my port). Now that I have a month or so I think I’ll be building these in. Was doing a nice complex yesterday with just a 35 lb bar….clean, strict press, push press, split-jerk (now that I’m more comfortable with my port I can see that I’m ok doing these – but still very, very careful). Even though the weight was less I had to hold it the entire time through the complex. I used to be able to clean 75 lbs or so and I was getting around the same with my split jerk. Strict press and push press I don’t actually recall. Going to make a new record of pre-chemo 1 rep maxes and post-chemo 1 rep maxes so I’ll have some benchmark of where I am getting back to after my recovery from the surgery. I’m predicting that I’ll likely still be about 10-20% off my lifting by my birthday next year – but that’s fine. I’ll get it back. Took me about 2 years to get to those weights and I only attend 3 x week.

And so it goes….


August 5, 2015 – Wednesday

Today is my surgery – double mastectomy followed by reconstruction (phase 1, the expanders). I have set post-surgery goals. My list is filled with things that are very simple to complete (requiring only time after the surgery to heal enough that I can check off the boxes and have some fun) and some that will be much more difficult to obtain and will require me to be back at the gym rebuilding my strength to be able to check them off. Everyone needs goals to focus on driving them forward so here are mine:

1. 30 second handstand hold

2. Kettle bell swing 1/2 pood

3. Kettle bell swing 3/4 pood (x 10)

4. Kettle bell swing 1 pood (x5, then x 10)

These first two require me to be able not only to have the strength to do these things but to also be able to move my hands above my head- I cannot complete these until I have full range of motion back after the surgery. I see these as some of the hardest goals on this list. For the KB the 1/2 pood is where I started when I began Crossfit and the 1 pood KB (x 5 reps) I was able to do even post-chemo. I want it back post-surgery and then I want more – 10 reps at 1 pood.

3. 90-minute massage

How long until I can lay on my stomach comfortably and have someone run the knots out of my body for me? No idea. It’s a softball (simple) goal but one that will require the time to heal properly before I can achieve it.

4. clean 70 lbs.

5. clean 80 lbs.

6. clean 85 lbs

I could clean 70 lbs post chemo and pre-chemo/cancer mess I was cleaning 80. Now I not only want to do those two things again I also want to push my 1 rep max for cleans up 5 lbs to show cancer that I’ve really kicked it’s ass and gotten myself back – and then, I’m aiming for 90 lbs…

7. deadlift 105 lbs.

8. deadlift 115 lbs

9. deadlift my weight

At my strongest (and when I weighed about 138 lbs) I could deadlift about 115 lbs. Pre-chemo I got to 105 lbs before my form broke. In total I want to see the day that I deadlift my own weight. Deadlifts, while I really like them, have never been my strong suit. Many folks at the gym deadlift their weight quickly, not me. Even healthy I never reached this goal.

10. wall ball – 10 lbs x 10 reps

11. plank 2:30

12. run 1.0 mile (any speed as long as I’m running)

13. row 2K

These 4 are things I did during my chemo to keep me strong and moving. I just want to get back to them after the surgery – get my flexibility and strength and stamina back. They’ll all come in time.

14. drink a glass of wine – ACHIEVED (Mon, Sept 14th)

Will need to be off the pain pills (AKA narcotics) for this one. Another softball goal that is going to require time and healing to achieve.

new additions post-surgery

15. be able to drive (will come at the same time as be able to drink a glass of wine) – need to be off the percoset. – ok, gave up being off percoset and started driving – ACHIEVED (Sat, Aug 22nd – was a little rough going through a parking garage, turning and turning…)

16. be able to sleep on my side like I used to – ACHIEVED – somewhere around 4/5 weeks. Finally more comfortable at the 6 week post-surgery mark

17. be able to wear a bra / feel the need to – ACHIEVED (Thurs, Aug 20th) – note can wear it, still don’t feel the need to 6 weeks out…and it still makes me a little sore so I usually am not wearing one.

18. be able to get a non-button down shirt on and off by myself – ACHIEVED (Fri, Aug 21st)

19. be standing and be able to pick up my daughter and hug her tight as I can to my chest as she wraps her legs around my body – ACHIEVED (Tues, Sept 22nd)


August 14, 2015 – Friday

It’s been more than a week since my surgery and I can say that I’m feeling pretty good considering what I’ve been through. I had no issues during the surgery – everything went as planned and I was able to come home the same day as the surgery. I was very grateful that one of my friends who’d been through this surgery warned me that when I first woke up in the recovery room that my chest would feel heavy and tight – as if it were hard to get a breath – and to remain calm and take slow breaths. This was indeed the case. Also – I had no issues with nausea post surgery since they gave me one of those silver scopolamine patches to go behind my ear. As promised, I awoke with 4 “drains”. Let me describe these….

In each side of my body, I still had a hole – and out each hole I had two long thin plastic tubes attached to little plastic bulbs that are capped. Each bulb is effectively a drain and post-surgery stuff oozes out (looked like red Kool-aid the first few days then pale orange Kool-aid the rest of the days). The end of the drains is in the chest – each drain is collecting from its own area in my chest. Following surgery you have to measure the amount of liquid that drains into each bulb (they are numbered with a Sharpie) and record it for the doctor. Once you get below a certain amount of drainage, the bulbs can be removed. I was very happy to get 2 of the 4 drains taken out this week (on August 13th) and I’m planning on getting the last 2 drains out on August 19th.

Best way to recover – get hooked into something from Netflix and watch it non-stop. Kept me quiet and resting so that I would heal. I also sent my young daughter away with family to give me a nice break for most of the first week and a half. That helped immensely. More to say but I’m tired now….

August 19, 2015 – Wednesday

2 weeks since the surgery. Very happy to report that I got my last 2 drains out yesterday and it left me feeling so free!! I did a little happy dance and hugged the nurse who removed them and sent me on my way. It’s another small step in my recovery. Now, sights are set on getting off the percoset (so I can drive, and drink a glass of wine – on my post-surgery list, but driving should have been on that list too I feel!). Also, want to add to the list the ability to sleep on my side. Right now I have to sleep on my back, with my two heart shaped mastectomy pillows under my arms and a ton of pillows propping me up. To lay completely flat isn’t comfortable and on my side simply not possible due to all of the incisions which are still sore. Baby steps.


August 27, 2015 – Thursday – immunotherapy treatment #1

Had my first herceptin-only treatment. Although the treatment itself only took 90 min to administer, it came along with the usual blood draw and appointment with the doctor. Given this my appointment started at 8:45 am and I finally was done at about noon. For some reason it was a terribly slow day. Part of it was due to my doctor not seeing me until after 9:30 am (usually I’m already done and into the chemo room by 9:30 am for an 8:45 am appointment but today it didn’t go that way). Then I had to wait in the chemo room for them to make up the herceptin and that took longer than usual as well. Going forward I’ll have 10 more treatments, every 3 weeks, and I’ll have appointments with the oncologist every 3rd appointment to check and see how I’m doing. On the days where I’m not meeting with my oncologist the appointment shouldn’t take more than 2 hrs. Since I wasn’t going to be there all day I took a seat in the 2nd row – so I was NOT right by the windows. The window was more important when I was there all day. Now I happily take a seat farther back since the immunotherapy treatment is shorter. For me, it mentally is another step – a progression, moving up before moving out and not needing to visit at all for any treatments.

September 17th, 2015 – Thursday – immunotherapy treatment #2 // final fill concerns (of the expanders)

Second treatment is today. Last time the doc said no pre-meds necessary but I was given them anyway. Hated the Benadryl it made me sleepy and foggy-brained. Going to skip those pre-meds today.  They were fine when I wasn’t at work but today I have the treatment in the morning, then a 3 hr meeting I want to get to followed by an appointment with my plastic surgeon to discuss my final size. I haven’t been mentioning it here oddly – but starting 2 weeks after the surgery I had weekly fills (50 ml each fill x 4 fills) to fill the expanders in my chest. Last week I had my “final” fill that got me to 400 mL – approximately to the size where I was pre-surgery. I say approximately because after staring at them for the last week or so they don’t seem big enough. I even asked my husband point blank (as I stood in front of him without a shirt) and asked him – no. They are smaller than they were before he says -and he should know. He’s been staring at them for over 20 years!! Back to the surgeon’s office I go today to see about continuing to get another 1-2 fills. I think 1 more might do it – though my husband would easily go for 2!  I just need to be certain I’m happy. This is for ever. Don’t want to regret it.

September 22nd, 2015 – Thursday

That last fill was a doozy. Left me feeling sore for a while – still feel sore in my right side sometimes and it’s not a little sore it’s a big “ow!” that’s really uncomfortable sore. Not great getting comfortable on my side when I sleep but I can do it and have successfully. Just still feel clunky and that I have to be careful moving around. I think I might like to go a little bigger in size but for now, I’m not going up any more until I’m done being sore from what I’ve already got pumped into me. Giving my body time to get used to it all – and  I think all of the yoga stretching and stretching at the gym is really helping these last few days. Working hard to keep up on my vitamins, sleep and water….. looking forward to getting back to feeling 100% normal – baby steps at the gym…..as I said for now, just stretching lots and lots of different ways all over.

September 24th, 2015 – Thursday

Toe nail ripped itself off – missing a huge chunk on a big one.  Looking into it further – and trimming – also had a few others drop off. Who needs cute toes now anyway? It’s autumn!! Good timing for once.

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