Happy Cancer Girl

A Happy Girls Journey with Cancer

1 Year Hysterversary

Warning: This post is a little random and all over the place.

It has been a whole year since my total hysterectomy….a whole year! I think the older you get, the faster time goes. As I was going through treatments it didn’t feel fast, but to look back on the past year so much has happened and here we are again, in February.

To be honest, I don’t know what to do with this blog anymore. I know I want to keep it open so that maybe other women who need information will find it. I had the blog so I could keep everyone updated, and to share real information about what was going on with me. However, once the doctor said my scans were clean I felt like that was it. Who wants to hear from the Happy Cancer Girl who doesn’t have cancer?

I don’t have cancer. Is that really right? I had cancer, but my scans are clean…so that means I don’t have cancer? I’m a cancer survivor, at least that’s what I am today. I go back to see the oncologist in 2 weeks for my quarterly check up, fingers crossed that all is well inside of my body.

I have been having a hard time sleeping the past couple of weeks. I try to forget everything that has happened with me, but being a year ago that I had my surgery makes that hard. I still have nightmares, not blood and gore, but real life nightmares.

One of my sister-in-law’s gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a few weeks ago. She has been so kind to me and has allowed me to spend as much time with Max as I would like. My love for him is deep (likely because he is the first nephew to be born post hysterectomy), and of course he has been automatically added to my list of rent-a-kids. Spending lots of time with the baby has amazing, but it has also been hard on me. Being with him makes me long to have a baby of my own, but that isn’t possible. I know that there is adoption, but with all of the red tape and the fact that I have a type of cancer that has a high recurrence rate doesn’t make me a very good candidate. It makes it hard to not go through the questions, why did this happen to me?, what did I do to deserve this?, why me, why me, why me?? Seriously cancer can make a person really self involved!!

On a bright and non-cancer note, I am tutoring a little boy in Grade 2 reading. It was been an interesting experience for me. I love to read and really wanted to be able to share that with someone. In just a few weeks I already see an improvement in his reading, a couple hours a week can make such a big difference.

My taste in music lately has been more on the folky/mellow side, here’s a couple video’s for you to enjoy!

8 Comments »

Post Chemo Life

It has been a month since I finished my treatments and I think I’m ready to write about my life over the last few months. I wish I could have kept up with my blog during that time, but I either didn’t have the energy or the drive to sit and type. So this post will likely be long as I want to explain what the last two months of chemo was like for me, and what I have been up too post chemo.

The last time I wrote during my treatments was chemo #10, which was also my first blood transfusion. After that first transfusion I ended up getting a couple more transfusions. One around treatment #14 and than one that replaced my last treatment which was #18. After I reached the halfway point my blood counts remained low. Almost every week I would have my blood checked on the day of chemo because my weekend blood counts were too low for treatment. I was always able to continue my treatments because my counts were always a point or two above the cut off number.

July is kind of blur in my mind now. I would say it went by in the blink of an eye, but at the time it didn’t feel that way. I slept a lot because of my low blood counts. I suffered from a bad case of chemo brain, which really bothered me because I usually have a great memory. The bone pain really started to bother me in July. The only way I can think to explain it is like this, it felt like someone was taking a melon baller and was scooping the marrow out of the bones in my legs. It didn’t hurt all the time, but when it did hurt…it hurt pretty bad. One of my knees also ached pretty bad, every time I would walk up my driveway or any place uneven ended in a bit of a limp. The numbness in my hands and feet got worse in July, I was told to use a cane when walking because I kept tripping. I didn’t use a cane, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to use the motorized carts in the grocery store either. The last thing I wanted was for people to look at me and feel sorry.

July also brought along some really hot weather. Owen and I ended up buying an air conditioner because the heat and the hot flashes were making me feel worse than I really needed. The air conditioner helped cool the house down, but I felt kind of trapped. I knew going out would make me feel sick, so I stayed home more often and had my mom do my grocery shopping.

Speaking of my mom, she deserves so much more than I will ever be able to give her. She came to stay with me back in February when I had my surgery and pretty much stayed until I was done my treatments. She went home some, but she would always come back to cook, clean and take me to the hospital. I honestly don’t know how she did it. Between all the driving, staying at my house, cleaning up after me, making sure I was eating and endless hours at the hospital watching the life drain out of me…she is a strong woman and I will always be grateful for her. I think the job of the caregiver is almost harder than the job of the person going through the treatments.

August kind of came and went with a bit of a blur also. I had a couple treatments and then I was done. I was happy, but I was so tired that I don’t think it really registered. My bones still hurt and my hands and feet were still numb. At some point during the month I tripped going up my stairs, which left me with a cut on my hand and a big black and blue egg on my shin. A couple weeks after my last treatment I got a rash on my armpits, I think my hair follicles were irritated. A few days after that rash my arms also broke out. All of the hair that fell out wants to grow back and the start of the growing is really itchy and annoying for my baby soft skin!

What’s going on now? Well my hands and feet are feeling much better. They are still a bit numb, but not as bad as they were. I did trip down 3 stairs yesterday, but I think it was because I was daydreaming and not really paying attention. Thankfully I didn’t fall and although I hurt the bottom of my foot, it’s nothing too serious. My knee still hurts, I’m going to give it a little more time and then if it doesn’t feel better I will head to my GP for a check up. My bones ache on occasion, but nothing like they did in July and the first of August. I’m still tired, but mostly cause I over do it some days. I think my recovery from chemo is moving along at a pretty good pace. Each day I am able to do more than the last. Somedays I’m really tired and I take naps and push through the rest of the day. I’m reading and doing puzzles to help with the chemo brain. My head is not as clear as it used to be, but I have no doubt that I will get it all back eventually. I had a CT Scan and it showed no evidence of disease, I am now cancer free!

For six months I was busy with surgery, healing, blood work, doctors appointments and treatments. During that time I remained positive and happy for the most part. I almost always had a smile on my face. Now that the flurry of cancer is over (for the most part), I am left to heal. What I have come to realize is that there is more to heal than just my body. The emotions that I pushed back are now starting to surface. I was right in saying don’t worry about it, I will be fine. Because it was true, I have made it out the other side of the treatments and I am alive. But emotionally I think I am just starting to realize that I actually had cancer. Not only did I have cancer, but I had the most deadliest of female cancers. I beat it, and that is amazing and I’m really glad I did, but that doesn’t stop me from randomly bursting into tears thinking about all that I’ve been through.

Having had cancer is only half of it though. I am now able to process the fact that I have had a hysterectomy and what that really means for me. I have a giant scar that reminds me several times a day that I am missing something that I didn’t ever think I would lose. My body is not the same as it used to be, it can’t produce the hormones that it once used to. I can’t replace those hormones because of the type of cancer that I had. I used to act like a crazy hormonal person, I guess now I sometimes act like a crazy non-hormonal person. I am mourning the brown haired, big eyed, glasses wearing, booking loving, nerdy children that I wanted to give birth to. The little Buerkle babies that had stolen my heart before they were ever born. This isn’t about having children, it’s about not being able to bring a child into this world that looks a little bit like me and has 100% of Owen’s brains. I know that many couples can’t have children, it often has nothing to do with cancer, and I know that we will get through it, but right now it hurts. I thought that I was ok, but now that I’m not as busy as I was, I have a lot more time to think about what has happened and what isn’t meant to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy, I am still me. I have so much to look forward to. My list for living needs to be worked on. I have started knitting, but had to stop because my fingers hurt too much. I hope to pick it up again soon. The house by the Bay, well it will be less of a dream and more of a reality next year. If building a house doesn’t keep me busy, then nothing will! I’m also going to apply to school for next fall. After all the time I have spent at the hospital I’ve realized that I like it there, and I really admire the people who work there. I want to be a Licensed Practical Nurse. Maybe someday I will even be an RN. In the meantime I would like to volunteer at the hospital, I miss it already. It will be nice to be there for something other then treatments or appointments!

Have you heard Miley Cyrus’s new song “Wrecking Ball”? I know that a lot of people are upset with her for going from a Disney princess to a young girl who doesn’t wear enough clothes and smokes pot, but as an adult without children, I’m enjoying her new music. As for the video for this song…I don’t understand why artists are expressing themselves by being naked, but whatever works for them I guess! Until next time, I leave you with Wrecking Ball.

11 Comments »

I’m on a Roller-coaster

Last week I wrote about going to see the oncologist and asked you to do a happy dance because she told me the cancer didn’t spread. This week the surgeon who did my hysterectomy called me to go over the final pathology report. She told me that the original tumour was endometroid ovarian cancer, my other ovary had a borderline tumour (which is not full blown cancer, but can turn into it), and my uterus had some unusual/odd cells (which I guess could have turned into cancer if it wasn’t removed). My cancer stage is called Stage 1C Grade 1, because the cancer wasn’t contained to one ovary and the original tumour was cut into while it was still inside my body (it was also stuck to my pelvic wall). The surgeon (who is a gyn-oncologist) told me that it was their recommendation that I do 6 cycles of chemo.

I feel like I am on a roller-coaster and I’m not allowed to get off. I don’t understand why the other oncologist told me that the cancer didn’t spread when in fact it did. I am looking forward to seeing her again next Tuesday so that I can ask. I know that when I had my first surgery they sent the slides to 3 different labs, so there are 3 different pathology reports and two of them agreed while one was a bit different. This could be the case again, but I won’t know until next week.

Despite everything going on, I feel good. I don’t want to do chemo, but I was also really nervous that I wouldn’t be doing chemo. I know the chemo will kill any little cancer cells that may still be in my body and once the chemo is done I will be able to move on with my life and won’t spend all my time worrying about the what if’s.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, it’s nice to have the support of family, friends, ladies who have gone through the same thing, and also people who are following along who don’t even know me. When it’s all said and done I hope that we can celebrate together and do one big happy dance!

Have a good weekend!

8 Comments »

Finally Some Good News

Yesterday I met with the oncologist and she was able to tell me about the pathology report. The cancer didn’t spread!!! Everything came back clean and clear. If I could dance I would, but rest assured I am dancing in my head!

So, what now? Well I still don’t know. The oncologist wanted to talk to the surgeon who did my first surgery before she recommended her final treatment plan. It is a little confusing to me because the GYN-oncologic surgeon who did my hysterectomy told me that I would have to have chemo to be on the safe side, due to the endometriosis. I guess we will wait to see what this new oncologist decides and we’ll go from there.

I also have a part of my incision that isn’t healing very well, so we need to give it time to heal from the inside-out (yup it’s as gross as it sounds), before I can start chemo. I see the oncologist again in 2 weeks, and if it’s a go with chemo it would probably start about 1 week after that…so hopefully in 3 weeks my hole will be healed!

Now that you’ve read my news, you can go do a happy dance for me!

36 Comments »

Sleepless Nights

I’ve read that it is common for hysterectomy patients to suffer from insomnia following their surgery due to an imbalance in hormones. I am almost 3 weeks post-op and haven’t slept through the night since I stopped taking pain medication. Without fail I wake between 2-4 and I am up for almost 2 hours. At first I tried just laying there and hoping to fall asleep, and now I’m reading but not getting a good nights sleep is quickly wearing me down. I have also read that your body should work it self out 4 or 5 weeks after surgery. I can only hope that this is the case! I would love to hear some ideas on how to sleep through the night, or how to get back to sleep once I wake up.

I am nervous about my appointment with the oncologist tomorrow. I don’t know why, maybe because seeing the doctor makes the whole thing real. You would think that surgery would have made it feel real, but women have hysterectomy’s for a lot of reasons…one big reason being endometriosis. I’ve known for a few months that I would be doing chemo, but now that I’m getting close to starting I’m thinking about what the chemo is going to do to me. I’m not looking forward to being sick, feeling like I have the flu, the fatigue or the brain fog that is going to come with the chemo.

Maybe some relaxing music would help me. I love Only Time by Enya…enjoy!

14 Comments »

Couch Potato

What do you do when you can’t do anything? I don’t normally watch a lot of television, so it feels odd to lay on the couch watching show after show. I was sent Sudoku and Search a Word books (thanks Kim), they are keeping my brain from turning to mush. Yesterday mom took me for a drive, it was nice to get out of the house!

I guess you could say I’m bored. What I would give to go for a walk, but by the time I made it to the end of my driveway, I would have to turn around and try to walk back up it. I did walk around Shopper’s Drug Mart yesterday because I needed to pick up some more gauze, paper tape and a thermometer for chemo. I was hoping to go for a drive again today and maybe go for a slow walk around the grocery store, but my car is a standard and I don’t want my mom to take me for a drive with it, in case she’s jerky (it’s been a while since she’s driven a standard).

I often sit and think about being in the hospital, I can’t get rid of the memories. However, one moment I will never forget, nor do I want to forget…I was in the middle of a horrible hot flash and couldn’t get cooled down. My dad opened the window and took a pillow and fanned me with the cool air. It was probably one of the happiest moments I have ever had!

So here I am, 2 weeks post op, feeling better….well enough to be bored, 2 weeks from driving again and 4 weeks before I can lift anything and can do my own housework! For now I can listen to music and dream about dancing!

9 Comments »

Surgery Sucks

February 20th was my D-day, the day I lost my female reproductive system. I had to be at the hospital for 8:00 am to register, my surgery was scheduled for 11:15. We sat around waiting, me in a johnny shirt, everyone filled with nervous energy. The nurses talked to me, took blood, talked with me some more and then sent me to wait. Owen and I were able to meet with the surgeon before surgery and ask a few questions, then it was time to go. I had to walk to the operating room, a part of me wanted to turn around and run. In the operating room I laid down on the narrowest table I have ever seen. They use belts to make sure you don’t fall off. Then it was action time, plugging me into machines, setting up iv’s, giving me drugs and all at the same time everyone in the room was very reassuring.

I woke up in recovery, moaning and in pain, 10/10 pain, drugs…so many drugs, 5/10 pain, more drugs, I couldn’t feel a thing.

I was wheeled to my room after a few hours in recovery, they washed me up, called it the spa (told Owen and my parents they were putting me through the car wash). Finally I was allowed to see my family…I don’t really remember much from the night, I think they were with me a few hours before it was time for them to leave.

What was removed? My ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, fatty layer over the bladder, biopsies of the pelvic wall and washings. They didn’t have to remove any of my lymph nodes. The surgery went well and it didn’t look like the cancer had spread!

The next two days were drug filled, dilaudid was my name. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I was in and out, but wasn’t feeling any pain. I had visitor’s, I’m sorry I missed them. I remember them coming to see me and wanted to talk but just couldn’t do it. Poppy, thank you for coming, I know that Owen appreciated having you there. I also loved the little stuffed puppy, I actually cuddled it a lot when I was alone. Karen, thanks for coming, I know I only said hi, but my mom was so grateful for having you there with her. The blanket you gave me is lovely and will be used often! Geoff and Jamie, Owen and I owe you so much. The use of your home while we are in Halifax, the lovely flowers and the time you spent at the hospital, you have been so kind to us. Thank you!

On Saturday they stopped giving me dilaudid and started to give me Tylenol 3’s, I was so happy. Yes I felt more pain, but I was able to sit up and have a conversation with Owen and my parents. I don’t think I slept a wink that day after sleeping for almost 3 day’s straight. Poppy, Robert and two of my favourite munchkins came to visit and I was able to stay awake and talk with them! I was able to get out of bed, see straight and walk the hall to the little kitchen where they had popsicles. I needed something to cool me down….because when they took out my reproductive system my body went into instant menopause. Ladies…surgical menopause sucks! Hotflashes are terrible, and get this there are hot flashes and there is another thing they call an ember burn, it’s a slow burn that lasts for about 30 minutes, well hello ember burn…you suck! Because my type of cancer is hormonal I am not able to take hormone replacement therapy, but they do have another drug that I am able to take that seems to be working.

Sunday I was released, sent home! The drive home wasn’t too bad, I think there were still traces of dilaudid in my system. Once I got home I was given 20 T3’s, not many to get me through the next few days. I also had to deal with the brain fog and lack of concentration.

Thursday I went to have my staples removed, unfortunately I had a reaction to the staples and didn’t heal as well as I should have. The doctor ended up stitching up most of my incision. Friday was a bad day, I was feeling sore and terrible that I’m not healing very well. It was sad and depressing. Saturday came and I started to feel better, my appetite returned and I was able to sit up longer. Sunday was a great day, I was feeling better and feel as though I have turned a corner. I received cards and gifts in the mail, and had food dropped off, everything just made my day that much better!

A big thank you to my parents! They came with Owen and I to the hospital, the days were long for everyone. Since I’ve been home my mom has been staying with me. She has been such a big help. When my dad isn’t working, he’s here also, it’s nice to have the company. He also brought my nephew down for March break, I love spending time with Karston even if we can’t do the things that we normally do when he is here to visit.

Now that I am feeling a bit better I am going to try to blog more! I have a few weeks before chemo starts, I haven’t got the exact date yet, that will be my next hurdle.

30 Comments »

Quick Update

Hi everyone, I’m here to give you a quick update, but will provide better information in the future when I am feeling better. My surgery went well, everything looks good and pathology will be back in a few weeks. I was on a lot of drugs at the hospital and now that I’m not on massive pain killers I’m feeling sore. I was released from the hospital on Sunday and am going tomorrow for a check up and to have the staples removed. I’m really tired, and going to the hospital tomorrow will be the first time I’ve left the house since I’ve returned!

Have a great day and I will blog at you again next week!

7 Comments »

Nervous Nelly

We were hit with another snowstorm this weekend, it really looks like winter outside now. It would be better if it looked so wintery in December, but I’m sure there are some people who are actually enjoying the snow! Owen and I did manage to go to the movies once this weekend, unfortunately the movie wasn’t great. We went to see Beautiful Creatures which is based on a book written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, which I really enjoyed, but the movie wasn’t nearly as good.

The rest of my weekend was spent by me being a little bit frantic. I want this surgery to be over with because the waiting is going to give me an ulcer! I’m having a hard time sleeping (last night I had a terrible dream where I was pregnant…seemed kind of cruel), and the smell of food is making me feel sick (sounds like I could be pregnant, but I’m not), and I’m having daily migraines because of the stress. I know that I will be fine and I will get through the surgery, but I can’t seem to calm my nerves!

The video I am posting today is for the song Stutter by Marianas Trench, if you haven’t heard it you really should listen. The song is great, but it’s the beat that I really like. I feel like it is a good representation of what is going on in my head right now…remember the beat not the words! 🙂 Let the last kitchen dance party begin!

3 Comments »

OMG I Have Cancer!

Although I had a good weekend, I had some moments that had me feeling really down. I think it all started with pre-op. The nurses at the hospital were really great and I felt comfortable there, which was nice. While talking about my surgery and the medications I take the nurse compared having a hysterectomy to having a c-section. I wanted to punch her in the throat, because I will never know what it’s like to have a c-section. Although maybe the incision is the same, I think the surgery’s are different…with a c-section you get a baby, with a hysterectomy you get menopause. Don’t get me wrong, I think recovering from a c-section is likely difficult when you have a new baby to look after also. They say the best way to heal is to move around a lot and to sleep….that also must be hard with a new baby. I just don’t think it’s fair to compare a c-section that takes 30-40 mins (although I’m sure some take longer) to my somewhat complicated hysterectomy that is scheduled to take 3.5 hrs.

I also realized at the hospital that all the paperwork said I was having a hysterectomy (which makes sense because that’s why I was there), but it also said I have ovarian cancer. It was the first time I’ve actually seen it written down on paper…on medical documents. When I read it, it was like “Holy shit, I have cancer!”. I received my diagnoses two months ago, but seeing it on a medical document made it more real.

I don’t know if my dark moods the past few days have to do with pre-op, my upcoming surgery (in 9 days), or just the fact that I have cancer. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, for what I’m about to lose. I feel sorry for Owen, because there is nothing he can do but sit and watch it happen, and he too is losing a lot. I’m a little angry that this is even happening to me. I made the mistake of looking at all the statistics, as a Canadian woman you have a 0.1% chance of having ovarian cancer right now, in your life time you have a 1.7% chance of getting ovarian cancer. To pull myself out of my dark moods, I had to think about how lucky I really am. Ovarian cancer tends to be a hard cancer to beat because 75% of women get diagnosed in a late stage. I know I am in the early stages (actual stage TBD after my surgery). I have to lose my uterus, but I will survive this and will get to live a happy and full life.

I had someone recently leave a comment on one of my posts and he directed me to a song on youtube that he wrote for his sister-in-law who was diagnosed with breast cancer. I listened to the song and was amazed that this guy was able to write a song that really summed up how I feel some days. Thank you Thomas for sharing this with me, I’m glad I am able to share it with the blog world.

12 Comments »