October has been a better month. On the day of my last post, I was having a whiny, pity party. I felt crappy and sorry for myself and was wallowing. So much so that many people called and texted me to ask how I was doing. I appreciate that greatly. Some days are good and some days are not so good, but I so thankful for all of you who support us. The day after my post, I decided to do something to make my days better. I cannot control the aches and pains, but I can control what I do with my days.
I started to volunteer in J’s classroom twice a week to help those kids who need a little extra push leaning their numbers and letters and whatever else is needed. This morning I volunteered at the school, assisting with vision screening. I really enjoy getting to know the kids and helping. J was also in a play in his (top!) reading group this week so I could go watch that. I have been at the school so much lately that I feel like I should do a donation to the PSO to get my own parking space.
I also went into an organization called www.breastfriends.org. It is a fantastic support organization which helps those in all stages of breast cancer. I am going to start volunteering there next week doing data entry for their fundraising software, possibly some organizing (I love this part so much), stuffing envelopes and whatever else they need. These things I can do sitting down, which my body really appreciates. On the day I walked in, I also sat down with the patient care counselor who is a 7-year survivor. I really needed her counsel, support and hugs that day. We talked for almost an hour. I cried, we laughed and she reminded me that my most important job right now is to take care of myself. One thing that I keep seem to be forgetting is that I have had 2 major surgeries and 1 minor one this year and my body is still healing. It is going to take a while for my body to catch up to my brain. Not that my brain has not suffered, because it has, but I need to take care of all of me. Easier said than done, but I am trying.
I also called my oncologist a few weeks ago to discuss the severity of my side effects from the Letrozole. The joint and muscle pain makes it hard to feel decent and I was really suffering while just moving. Insomnia, hot flashes, stomach issues. Blah, blah, blah. I wanted to move on to the next medication as there are 3 that I can try and I had been on 2 so far. I heard back from him and he said to take a break from the meds for a month until my next appointment. My first reaction was “HELL NO! I have had cancer twice, the second time while taking Tamoxifen which is supposed to prevent this crap. How is it ok to NOT be on medication for even a month? What if I have super destructo cancer cells just waiting until the day that I stop my meds for it to explode again in my body? I’m predisposed. NOOOOOOOO!” But really, I said, “Ok, I will stop for a month.” I mean, he is the doctor, right? I have been off the meds for almost 2 weeks now and there is a noticeable difference. I walk faster, it is easier to kneel and get up, I am sleeping better, etc. The hot flashes are still there, but I have no ovaries, so that is just gonna happen. (I am so thankful for the cooler weather. It is 68 here today and I am less than thrilled. I want it in the low 50’s. Cooler weather = fewer hot flashes.) The one persistent pain that I am having is in my right arm. Why? You ask. I have no F’in idea. It started a few months ago, and I was attributing it to the medication as I used to have similar thigh pain while on the tamoxifen. But this pain is not going away. Then, I thought maybe it was because I throw the ball to Apollo with the chuck-it most mornings at the park. I switched to only throwing with my left arm. That was comical, let me tell you. In the beginning, I would throw the ball straight into the ground and Apollo would be looking at me like “hey, where is my ball, ball, balllllll?????” My left throwing has gotten better, thankfully, but the pain has not. Nate brought up the idea that it may be nerve pain. It gets a lot worse at night and just aches from my shoulder down through my elbow. I took a Flexeril last night to see if it would help, but no. UGH. Just one more thing to bring up with my doctor in a couple weeks.
I have also started to see a naturopath doctor. I figure that I am doing all that I can with western medicine, why not check out what eastern medicine has to offer. I went in last week and met the doctor for an initial visit and had my first acupuncture. Needles, you say? Why yes, needles. I chose to have 25 needles put into my body voluntarily. Many in my support group said that it can help with the hot flashes as well as the joint and muscle pain. That is how much pain I have been in that I am willing to try needles. When most of the needles went in, I just felt pressure. For about 5 or 6 of them, there was a very definite “OUCH” involved. My hands and feet were sweating just from the idea of it all. Then with all the needles in, I just laid there for 20 minutes trying not to move because the needles felt so weird. I really had no idea what to expect and overall it was not bad. I go back tomorrow for my next session; she recommended once a week for 6 weeks and then a re-evaluation. The best part about the naturopath is that there is also massage therapy there. Woohoo! I have had 2 so far and the therapist did a lot of work on my left side with Swedish massage and it really loosened it up. Today was mostly cranial sacral “massage” providing pressure on certain areas to do something. I really don’t understand it, but she told me that she felt all kinds of things going on. Sure, it just felt good to me to lie quietly on a warm table for an hour. For free. Did I mention that we have shelled out so much money this year that I have hit my out of pocket maximum for the year? Free massages, free needles, free meds. Tomorrow I go back in for another massage and I have another one scheduled for Tuesday. The insurance will cover 60 visits for the year so I am going to see how many I can fit in over the next 2 months!