Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tests and Preparations

In some ways a lot has been going on since my last post. I had a few tests last week - a Muga Scan to again check to see if my heart muscle is putting up with the drugs and a Mammogram. In my Muga test, the technicians had a bit of a hard time with my veins - they blew 3 of them. Hopefully this is a sign that some other people were having a bad day and not my veins. If my veins are weakening, the doctor may want me to put in a portacath. Although it's not anything complex, it would be a constant reminder of the big C word and right now I enjoy walking away from the hospital feeling relatively normal. The mammogram was the first one I've had since I've been diagnosed. I was a bit apprehensive to get the cancer moved around that way, but it was relatively pain free. My surgeon just wanted another peek at what she'll be dealing with before going in.

Last week I also had my last official support group session. They were a great group of girls who I learned a lot from and everyone was so positive at the end, which made me really proud of all of them! We will most likely keep meeting from time to time to see how everyone's progressing.

This week I have been at work for the first part and then will have my clinic day and pre-surgery bloodwork on Thursday. Friday is most importantly, Talyn's 2nd birthday and also my first day of getting just the Herceptin. I have not had any problems with it so far, so the doctor feels that I will be able to continue to get this for the next 9 months and be able to go right back to work afterwards.

My surgery date of May 15th is quickly approaching - 2 weeks from today. Although I am fairly busy leading up to that day, I am starting to feel a bit nervous about it all. What will they find? What if my margins aren't clear? It's really hard to keep these thoughts out of my head. But, somehow I still feel very optimistic and positive about it all.

I mentioned that I am walking in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer at the end of July. Most of you have already been so supportive of me on this - thank you! If you still want to donate, please go to and then find my maiden name "Tasha Engel" under Participants. Every dollar that we can spare can help us make Cancer a thing of the past and we are so close!

Seeing so many people that I care about so much lately has been a real gift. It makes me look forward to getting back to "normal" life after my surgery and start working on my Life List. I hope that you are all doing the same!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Look of Chemo

I don't love pictures even when I think I look okay, but this was a real stretch for me. I thought it was important to post so that everyone could get a reality check on how important your health is. Chemo is definitely not fun. You become extremely pale, lose most of your hair and energy and deal with a lot of challenging side effects along the way. Although I got through it all, I often think about all of the people less fortunate than me that may struggle - especially the elderly and children. So, if you have any charitable donations to make this year, please consider sponsoring me in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer (which I will email you about seperately in the upcoming months). I don't believe that Breast Cancer deserves any more money than any other type of cancer, but I do believe that if we can find a real cure for any type of cancer, the rest will come in no time!

I finished my last round of chemo last week and although I was happy to be done, it wasn't as exciting as many people thought. I still have a big surgery on the horizon. Before that day comes, I will be resting to get my counts to where they need to be, doing a little bit of spa time with good friends and co-workers, celebrating Talyn's 2nd birthday and getting out in the sun. Of course that list will also include working on my lists of things "to do" before the surgery and the list of things to pack for the hospital (that part of me will never change).

To everyone reading this post, you have supported me in some way in the past months. This has undoubtedly made my life much easier, so please know that it means so much to me. You all doing something to help me, has made me much more positive and from that I have tried to help others going through this and make it easier for them. So if you ever think that you want to do more with your life and really help someone - you have.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ups, Downs and Finally a Plan!

The last little while has been a real test of my patience - or for those of you that know me well...have I really learned any? The biggest "up" was that my surgery date was finally booked. Although it was only 6 weeks after we finalized my paperwork, it felt like a lifetime to me. I guess it was fairly complicated to put together with 2 busy surgeons and an even busier operating room. But, my awesome booking assistants got it all together for the soonest it could have been - Tuesday, May 15th.

Then came a "down". My doctor's times changed and my final chemo was going to be 3 days later than I thought it would be. With a very quickly approaching surgery date, every day was needed to get all of my blood counts back up to normal, or they would delay the surgery. So, I called my doctor's amazing nurse, Linda, to explain the problem and she said that she would see what she could do. To my amazement in a very busy Cancer Center, they were able to change my days back to what they should have been and I now am back on schedule. My final chemo treatment will be on Tuesday, April 10th. Another "up"!

The final "down" was that this cycle made more fatigued than ever before. I went into work as I always do on week 3. But by the end of day 1, I was completely exhausted. So, I had to decide to put my health first and stay out of work the rest of the week. This was extremely hard on me. Everyone at my company has been more amazing than I could ever explain and I owe a great deal to each and every one of them. Although they might not look at it this way, I felt that I was letting them all down. My ever intuitive boss called me at home to ensure I was alright and instead of confirming what I thought, offered me even more support. This was the final "up" that I needed to get me through.

So now the plan is set. I am a bit anxious at putting that in writing, as the "set plan" has changed before. But, from what I know I have chemo next week on Tuesday, then bloodwork the week before my surgery and then the surgery on May 15th. Amongst these big events, I will continue to go to the cancer center every 3 weeks for my injection of Herceptin for the next year and will soon start the oral drug Tamoxifen.

The biggest event that I ask you to send me the positive energy for will be on May 30th. That will be the day that I meet with my surgeon to review the pathology results from my surgery. Was there any cancer left that was removed? Were these any tumours? How big were they? And finally, the most important one...are my margins clear? I don't really care how much cancer is left from what they remove, but I need my margins to be clear. That means that the outside margins of all of the tissue they remove are cancer free. This will be the final piece of news that I need to assure myself that I can kick into cruise control for the next while.

So, now that the sun is out, get outside, enjoy life and most importantly, enjoy some chocoate for Talyn and I! Each day is a gift and my healthy days are quickly approaching.