Home Again, Home Again...

I was lucky enough to have a bit of a break from the bone pain that coincided perfectly with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat, which allowed me to have a wonderful time with all the truly lovely women I met there.  I cannot thank the folks at the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation and the staff at Sundara enough for their kindness and the care that they lavished on every detail of the retreat.

Once again, I cannot recommend BCRF's retreats highly enough, for those of you who are unlucky enough to be struggling with this nasty disease.  They are a true blessing and a joy forever.  If you love someone who has been struggling with their breast cancer diagnosis and/or treatment, please recommend the retreats to them.

And please send BCRF a nice donation, if you can - they depend on the kindness of donors in order to keep the cost to the retreat-goers FAR below the actual cost of the event.  The BCRF folks are truly inspired by love, and are dedicated to their cause to an almost ridiculous degree; they deserve support on a grand scale that reflects the size of their hearts.

In the meantime, I have (regretfully) plunked back down from that bit of paradise and am back to reality.  In my case, reality means that the bone pain is back with a vengeance (darn!), I need to get my taxes done (yuck!), and I have my third chemo treatment on Monday.  Probably by myself, since the poor folks have been struck down with the Grue of Doom (which largely involves a long stretch of very nasty and seemingly intractable bronchitis, among other things).

Yeah, reality bites.  I think I'll go comfort myself.  I saved some chocolate from the retreat - reality may bite, but I can still bite back!!



Hopefully tomorrow I will be having my first Xgeva treatment, an acupuncture treatment, and then will be taking off for the Wisconsin Dells for most of the week.

Why the Wisconsin Dells?  Because that is where Breast Cancer Recovery has their retreat for women with metastatic breast cancer.  They hold these retreats at least twice a year, at the beautiful Sundara Inn & Spa, where they hold activities and talks specifically designed for the needs of stage 4 gals - and also spoil us shamelessly.

This spring we have women coming from all over the country - the retreat is so wonderful that it's worth a long bit of travel to get there.  The gals who run the retreat are fabulous, the accommodations are posh, the food is wonderful, and the spa folks are exceedingly kind and attentive.  If any of my dear readers qualify for this retreat and have not yet attended, I highly recommend that you sign up for the autumn retreat immediately.  I guarantee that you will come home refreshed, renewed, and relaxed.

Breast Cancer Recovery also holds recovery retreats for breast cancer survivors, retreats for women who are navigating their breast cancer journey without the support of a partner or significant other, and retreats specifically geared for younger gals (40 & under) who are dealing with this disease.  Descriptions of the various retreats and the opportunity to sign up can be found on the BCR website (see link above).

As you know, I could really use a bit of renewal right now.  I am very, very grateful to the BCR and Sundara folks who have given me this opportunity.  I only wish that you could be there with me!!


Time Out for Husband

Although I've been having a less than stellar time of things, I can't be all about me, all the time.

So this week has mostly been about my husband.

A little while ago, he sat down with our GP and had a stern talking-to about his uncontrolled diabetes.  More recently, she sat him down again and went over the improvements he's made (Yay, Scott!!) and the steps he needed to take in order to improve his health over the long haul.

In the process, they went over his family history, and what that and his diabetes meant in terms of risk factors.  She recommended that he have a cardiac stress test done, to get a baseline for his heart.

Scott had no symptoms, and he's been exercising regularly for the last couple years, so he was pretty sure that he did fine with the test - and seriously shocked when the test results concluded that his blood flow was down by at least 10%, showing that there was probably at least one blockage.

On Tuesday we saw our new and wonderful cardiologist, who told us that we should waste no time in getting an angiogram, which would tell us exactly where any blockages might be, and how bad they were.  We scheduled the angiogram for Thursday.

An angiogram is a surgical procedure in which a wired tube is threaded through your veins and into your heart, where dye is then injected through the arteries and a camera can take pictures that show any places in the arteries where blood might be flowing less than freely.  If there are blockages, the surgeon can push back the soft plaque with a balloon (angioplasty) and, if necessary, place a little expandable mesh tube (stent) in the artery to hold the plaque back and keep it from re-collecting itself in the same spot.

In Scott's case, he had one large blockage, which was backing up into an area where several arteries branched off.  If he had waited a while before taking that test, if all those arteries had been blocked off, things could have been much, much worse.  As it is, we really felt that we dodged a big ol' bullet!!  They pushed down the plaque as much as possible, placed a stent in the area, and we could see on the 'before' and 'after' photos how well they had opened that artery up.  Lovely!

Usually the wire is threaded from the groin up and into the heart; my husband was prepped for that type of surgery, but at the last minute his surgeon had to take an emergency case and Scott ended up with a hotshot new surgeon who threaded the wire through his wrist and arm instead.  It was amazing - within an hour of surgery, he was walking down the hall and eating his dinner.  And today, Scott says he feels just fine, barely even an ache in the spot on his wrist where they inserted that wire.

Modern medicine may not have much to say when it comes to treating advanced breast cancer, but it certainly has much to be proud of when it comes to treating the heart. 

In this case, they treated both Scott's heart and mine.  It does my heart good to know that he will be around for a good long time, loving and caring for our son and our extended family**.

** Speaking of which, I cannot thank my mom enough for her support and help in this, as in all else.  I couldn't do it without you, mom - you are my hero!!


The Eye Of The Beholder

Here is the latest photo of me, in new hairdo: