Breast Cancer Journey

Top 5 Unexpected Things You Learn When You Have Breast Cancer

1. Way too many people you probably know have had breast cancer. I was blown away by the number of women who reached out to me to tell me they had breast cancer. Like seriously blown away. I have mixed emotions about this. It’s so cool to know that all of these woman survived the chemo treatments, the other drugs, surgery, reconstruction or choice not to reconstruct. But its horrible when you realize just how many people who’s lives have been affected by breast cancer. Thank you to all of you for sharing your journeys with me and for all of your support.

2. How truly annoying boobs are. Sure they’re great for cleavage outfits and nursing babies but isn’t that about it? The list of annoying attributes far outweighs the few benefits (once the babies are nursed anyway). I’ve compiled a list of all things annoying about boobs – in no specific order:

  1.  Finding a bathing suit that fits them, compliments them and keeps them in place all at the same time.
  2. “My eyes are up here” distractions
  3. Bouncing around during exercise
  4. Hurting before your period
  5. Bra-oozing side boobs, and otherwise falling out of a bra
  6. Uniboob sports bras
  7. Sleeping on stomach can be painful
  8. Crumbs and food fall into them
  9. Under-boob sweat
  10. Finding a good fitting bra is nearly impossible, when you do, it’s expensive, only available in one color and never lasts forever.
  11. Being judged for your big boobs, small boobs, etc. Like we have any control over our boobs!?

3. Drug names are crazy and confusing. So far just two weeks into my treatment I’ve been given Cyclophosphamide aka Cytoxan, an infused chemotherapy drug designed to shrink fast growing cells, Adriamycin, aka Rubex, aka Doxorubicin, another infused chemotherapy drug designed to shrink fast growing cells, Neuoigen aka Filgrastim, a shot to stimulate production of white blood cells. Then there’s also Olazapine aka Zyprexa, a nausea med that makes me sleepy, Dexamethasone, a nausea med they gave me in high does at time of infusion, Ondansetron aka Zofran, nausea med and Prochlorperazine aka Compazine another nausea med. Their two to three names each is the brand name vs. generic name adding to the confusion.

Maybe it’s just me, but by name… they’re difficult to pronounce and difficult to remember. So I decided to give them nick names to keep them straight. I’ve got my red devil cocktail that includes the two infusion chemotherapy drugs. My nausea meds are sleepy, happy and hungry. My shot…his name is pokey.

My doctor looked more than a little confused when I told him I quite taking sleepy but happy and hungry are working in alternating half doses and I almost forgot pokey on Wednesday. Now we’re even Mr. Doctor!

4. Chemo causes food cravings. I’ve never really had many food cravings, even when I was pregnant my cravings were pretty mellow. Green chili burritos with Megan and with Rachel I craved movie theater buttered popcorn (from the actual movie theater!) and had an aversion to shrimp. Nothing too crazy, right? But now on chemo – I’m having some serious cravings! My first week it was smoothies, not just any smoothie, lemon ginger green smoothies. Then it was Santiagos breakfast burritos, neither too unusual for me. But then it progressed to comfort food, chicken soup, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs made with half and half and applesauce (not in the eggs of course). Applesauce is a requirement every morning. I’ve actually been craving chicken. So much for being a vegetarian. I’ve indulged in anything that sounds good so far.

5. Other people’s food rocks! When Beth told me she was setting up a Meal Train for me, not only had I never heard of one, whatever it was I didn’t think I needed it. But in three words… I was wrong! I’m probably the only person who didn’t know what a meal train was but in case you’re reading this and you don’t know what it is, a meal train is an organized way for friends and family to bring meals to someone who may not feel like or can’t cook for themselves.

Anyone who knows me very well knows I love to cook. I love to try new recipes, I love comfort food and I love ethnic food. I thought I was eating a pretty good variety of things, for a vegetarian anyway. But again, wrong. In the last three and a half weeks I’ve been lucky enough to discover some of my friends’ favorite dishes and I’m completely blown away by their culinary delights. I’ve tried home-made chocolate chip zucchini bread, amazing stir fry, vegetable soup, chocolate covered strawberries, vegetable chili, rosemary bread, fried green tomatoes, Japanese veggies and home-made miso soup, Italian pasta with beans, home made pasta in soup, yummy crackers, apple cinnamon cheese, walnut covered brownies, Trader Joe’s popsicles, ice cream and mushroom ravioli, chili relleno casserole, chocolate zucchini muffins, cinnamon chip bread, matzo ball soup, squash lasagna, rye bread, bananas, grapes, three absolutely wonderful salads and breakfast burritos! And I have an unknown large frozen casserole in the freezer. It came with directions on how to thaw and cook it, but I don’t know what it is!  That one’s going to be extra fun!

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to buy, cook, package, and bring me food! All kidding aside, you have saved me from not knowing what to eat and/or not eating because of the hassle of making something I don’t really want.

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