Breast Cancer Q and A

Someone has been asking me a few questions about my breast cancer year...and here are some of my answers:

What age were you and what year was it when you were first diagnosed?

34 when diagnosed on 2.18.08.

When I'm sick, my kids don't like that I can't play with them ...but that's usually a day or two...How did you handle that long term during your bad days?

I was still up and around on my bad days, but just slept more. My sister (and baby nephew) came into town for each chemo treatment and most of my (I had 5) surgeries...so they were a fun distraction. I also scheduled my treatments so that I had my bad days over the weekend, when my husband was home (Saturday and Sunday were harder days). I still forced myself to go to school functions, swim meets, etc. as much as possible, walked on most days, etc. They knew I was not feeling great, but kids are kids - they worry a little, but they are also in kid-world, too! I was able to do much more than I thought I would be able to do.

What one gift did you receive that really helped/touched you?

So many touching gifts. I was most touched by how MANY people signed up to help on my lotsahelpinghands.com site. It ended up being better for my family to keep things simpler and have my husband/sister/mother-in-law take up some of the slack, so it was just the offers of help that meant so much to me. The wonderful emails and cards of support went such a long way - I put them all in my "cancer binder" that I brought with me to the hospital and to doctor's visits in the beginning when everything was new and scary.

What tips did you follow to combat nausea?

For nausea - sleeping and walking. I pretty much did that and only that on the really bad days. I also had Healing Touch done the day after my treatment, which I am sure helped, at least mentally.

What adjustments did you make to your wardrobe, if any?

Wardrobe adjustments - so many. I had a bilateral mastectomy, so had to have shirts/sweatshirts that zipped up the middle, many sports bras/compression bras, a great little cami that you could slide the drain tubes into...and then I had a problem with one of my tissue expanders so for about 8 months I had no breast on one side (it was removed, I had chemo, and had it replaced after chemo). So then I needed to choose shirts that worked with my mastectomy bra. Also, I wore hats (didn't use my expensive wig very much as it was summer and too annoying), so I felt I needed to coordinate hats to things, too. I'm not a very fancy or coordinated person so all of this was so annoying to me.

How did your relationship with your husband change after diagnosis and then after treatment?

My husband and I grew closer than I could have imagined. He is my biggest patient advocate, he reads (still) thousands of pages of breast cancer research to keep up-to-date on new discoveries, he read all of the scary stories that I couldn't handle at the time. When someone can love you and want to be with you and even be intimate with you when you are bald and have only one half-constructed fake breast, that relationship becomes such a source of strength. I really learned that no matter what I look like, this man will love me until my dying day.

How did you thank the people who helped you the most often?

I have no great Martha Stewart ideas on this front. I of course wrote notes, thanked people on my blog, etc....and now I try to always be the first to volunteer to help, or to donate if they have a cause that is important to them, etc. Mostly, I am karmically thankful - trying to put all of the goodness that was shown to me back into the world in whatever way I can do it.

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