Wednesday, September 4, 2019

9 month update


Is it just me, or are the times in this country just getting heavier and heavier? The recent shootings in Texas, the situation at the border, all of it has me feeling pretty down. But I honestly have to ask "Is it just me?" fairly often, thanks to having started Tamoxifen three weeks ago.

I was more worried about starting Tamoxifen than about doing chemotherapy, if you can believe that! I had read so many horror stories online, and I personally know someone who's been on it who struggled with emotional mood swings and just feeling run down all the time. But I knew I had to give it a try - I had the option to take it the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I didn't, and the cancer came back. To me, that was good enough reason to try it.

I've had numerous side effects, some common, some not so common. Hot flashes, although they're not as bad as I experience on chemo. Achiness, but that was more within the first few days, and it has since subsided. Clouded vision, dry eyes, and eye pain, which is worrisome, as my vision was already affected by chemo. Extreme fatigue, which thankfully is helped by staying active and moderate exercise. I'm thirsty all the time, which is good since I drink more water now. I also struggle with dizziness and brain fog which comes and goes - I don't get it every day, and when I do get it, it passes after 1-3 hours. But while it's on it is so hard to concentrate and I make silly mistakes and can't think clearly. Sleep disturbances - I'll wake 3-4 times a night, wide awake, and have trouble falling asleep again - but again, this is helped by exercise.

And last, but not least, the mood swings. The best way to put it is that I feel extremely emotional, almost all the time. I was always teary eyed in sentimental scenes and sad commercials - now I have tears running down my face. Thoughts and memories at random also make me want to cry. I do my best to talk myself through it, so I'm not a mess in public. I've also experienced moments of depression, that thankfully pass, but when they pass I am amazed at how low I felt.

So, I now understand why Tamoxifen gets such a bad rap! I'm going to do my best to stick it out at least six months before I decide what to do next.

Also, I'm trying to see the positive side of being on a medication that makes me unusually emotional - I find myself remembering things from my childhood, and experiencing the emotions I felt at that time, all over again. It is fascinating, as these are sense memories I thought I had lost. And maybe being so emotional is helping me emotionally connect to others in my life? I hope so.

I hope everyone is doing well, and thanks to those who read these updates - I hope they are helpful to you in some way!

Monday, June 3, 2019

6 month update

experimenting with English Paper Piecing

Thought I'd update you again - I like the idea of these updates being all in one place, for my future reference. :) As you see above I am dipping my toes into English Paper Piecing with hexagons - something I NEVER thought I'd try - the idea of a hand-pieced quilt always seemed so intimidating!

I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, crafting-wise, which leaves me frequently with half-finished projects and downcast spirits. So I was shocked at how well I took to hand-sewing these hexagons - my biggest inspiration being a Creativebug class on English Paper Piecing by Liza Lucy.

She explained it so well, answering all the questions that mere diagrams in books left me bursting with, and I began!

experimenting with English Paper Piecing

I'll be doing a more in-depth post on this project on Feeling Stitchy, so keep an eye out for that!

6 months post-chemo
In health news, I am feeling better than ever, at my 6 month mark, post-chemo. Last week I had my first period since October 2018, which makes me so happy that my body is finally resetting itself. I wasn't liking the idea of menopause at 42, so I'm glad that everything is getting back to normal again.

Getting back to normal was a struggle, and I did have some false starts 3 months post-chemo. I had an odd series of episodes with fast, irregular heartbeats that sent me to the ER and urgent care, and ultimately to my doctor and a heart specialist. But happily, all the tests came back normal, the racing heartbeats subsided, and my doctor said that aside from a fatty liver (which I never recall having before chemo) and a vitamin D deficiency, I was doing very well.

My energy levels are finally back to normal, if not better than before! My achiness subsided as well - I've found that walking and keeping active is truly the best medicine for that. I've been working out again as of several weeks ago, so my arm mobility on my mastectomy side has really improved as well.

This is all a case of answered prayers - there were so many scary times when I doubted I would bounce back and get back to normal - I am just beyond happy at where I am right now.

Project A Month
On Feeling Stitchy I've been doing a series called Project a Month where my one goal is simply to finish 1 needlework project per month. What I've found by scheduling my time this way, is, of course, I have way more time than I ever imagined. Last month I found myself finishing 2 projects, so I'm hoping each month I'll be able to learn how to schedule my crafting time better and better.

Ultimate needlecraft haul

Up above you see the massive haul of vintage needles, scissors and pins I found at the thrift store for $5. I won't be needing a needle any time soon!

I hope this post finds you all well, healthy, and inspired!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dreaming of green

Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog
Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog
Dreaming of green a post by floresita on her blog

Here I am again, I know it's been awhile, just wanted to say hello and share a few images I'm enjoying lately - mostly I love when I am attracted to the same colors, over and over, unconsciously, in this case lime green.

I've been doing well, post-chemo - a lot of mysterious aches and pains, but every time I Google them, they seem to be normal side effects of women post-chemo. So, I'm just trying to bear with it, and each day I do feel stronger. Had a lot of pain in my hands last month, I've never had arthritis, but I imagine that's what it feels like. This month it's my knee and the ball of my foot, I just joke that chemo left me (I hope temporarily) with the body of an 80 year old.

Aside from that, I am keeping inspired - taking Karen Barbe's class on Color Theory on Domestika, finishing my Final project for that class (in lime green, as you see above), also taking Lisa Congdon's Creative Boot Camp class on Creativebug, which is SO MUCH fun, and starting on my next Project a Month for Feeling Stitchy. I'll give you a hint what the dominant color is on that one... lime green! :)

Hope you all are keeping well and inspired this Spring!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Chemotherapy update #15-16

2 lovely birds, made last year, given to chemo friends

Well, I am done with chemo! My last chemo was 3 weeks ago, and I couldn't be happier. There are no words to describe how happy I felt when I rang the bell, waved goodbye, and went home. Pure joy.

- Swelling hands and feet, weight gain - a combination of the chemo, steroid, and lack of activity, I think.
- Light brown hair! I've always had near-black hair - an interesting surprise.
- Mood swings - the worst ones hit about 1 week after chemo, then got steadily better.
- Brain fog - off and on, getting better.
- Bloody nose - finally disappeared 2 weeks after my last chemo.
- Fingernail / tonenail changes - still weird looking, but getting stronger.
- Small spot of possible neuropathy on the heel of one foot - it's a small spot, at least. So glad I iced my hands and feet for Paclitaxel - it made a difference!

At 2 weeks, I was feeling better on all fronts, but at 3 weeks I am feeling the most normal since I started! Finally I am able to sleep through the night without issues, drink caffeine without being super wired, and walk at a normal, unlabored pace.

What can I say, but that I am grateful. Grateful to God for preserving me in this long, arduous trial. Grateful to my husband, my family, my friends. And grateful to all of you who reached out to me or left a comment to encourage me. Thank you!!!