Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rock garden

My pal Renee in Seattle who recently did the Relay for Life out there is pictured here with some of her luminaries. I'm sharing one with Holly in CA. Next to us is Sharon in MD who I hope gets over her writer's block soon! Renee had TNBC and alerted me to the 3 week rad treatment.

My rock garden with creeping phlox all over the place and some primroses on the top center. Spent some time yesterday trying to groom it giving less invasive plants a chance to grow. In the summer, the phlox is replaced by lots of CA poppies
I am gradually making a dent in my to-do list. I was able to run quite well even though I overdid it the day before. I take Tuesdays and Thursdays off as those are the days of my LiveStrong class where I try to work out different muscles. I took care of some nagging financial matters that I kept putting off, finally cut Spud's overgrown nails, miserable for both of us and helped Naomi finish her final government project. Last week of school!
I used to have a giant silver maple where my rock garden is but its invasive roots destroyed our plumbing and was threatening our foundation. We had it cut down almost 9 years ago leaving an ugly stump. When our patio was redone a few years back, I had them put all the dirt they dug out on top of the stump and terraced it with big hunks of Michigan granite. (our county's number one natural resource-gravel) I tried to put plants of different textures-various mosses, sedums.
Until yesterday, none of these rocks were visible and certain plants were crowding out the slow growers. Still I have too much sedums and creeping phlox.
Aside from pruning the rock garden (not a true rock garden-we don't have the porous volcanic rock here that you folks have in Seattle for yours), I had to prune my face. In the past 2 weeks, I
went from not having a single hair on my face (no eyebrows, eyelashes, or facial hair) to werewolf lady. By eyebrows, I mean the entire region between my eyelids and forehead. I've been having to hack a painful path to give myself something that appears to be normal eyebrows. I am grateful to have most of my eyelashes back. It is so hard to feel attractive or even moderately presentable with bald eyes. And the facial hair was just gross.
Yet with all this facial follicle activity, the head hair seems to have stopped at a half inch of fuzz. I see little tiny hairs on my arms and had to shave a patch of about ten hairs from my pits. Nothing on the legs-that can stay that way and I don't need those apocrine glands either.
It is amazing how long the effects of chemo last. It has been 10 weeks since my last dose. In the TNBC news section, there was an article that said that Adriamycin does nothing for TNBC according to this meta-analysis in Italy. On the surface, it said that Adriamycin had increased survival for estrogen negative women in general but when they sorted out who was her2 neg or her2 pos, only the her2 pos were helped. Nice to know that I poisoned myself for no reason.
Articles like this were out when I was trying to decide what to do. I had discussed this with my onc and she acknowledged that Adriamycin's usefulness was very controversial but it was considered the standard of care. Taxol's benefit seems less debatable. Another area that I keep second guessing myself was agreeing to 'breast conservation' when TNBC recurrence rate is so much higher. She kept stressing that survival rates for breast conservation plus radiation were equal to that of mastectomy but I think that is for breast cancer in general, not TNBC specifically. I can not find the stats for TNBC but for those who have the BRAC1 gene (who mostly have TNBC)they recommend mastectomy. Not all TNBC is equal. I am holding on to the straw that it is less aggressive in older white women who don't have the gene.


Renee said...

I, too, am holding on to the fact that I am an older white woman, diagnosed early stage of TNBC. I was making myself crazy looking at recent studies & research - and trying to find out if my tumor was still around for more testing. . . . just to ensure that I've done all that I could have done to not have the beast come back. I decided I was crazy enough without adding more crazy fear of BC recurrence. lol

I admire the fact that you have managed the surgery and treatments with a teenager in the house and kept up with your exercise!

Oh, the hair. What IS with that? I sometimes feel like a pale blonde werewolf. Did I have this much face hair before chemo? Or is the fact that I couldn't see it because I had long hair that covered it? Either way, I have become obsessed with face hair. Okay, it's me going crazy again.

Have a great day!!!

Holly said...

WOW - what a great surprise to look at your blog today and see the lovely luminaria!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.........you are simply amazing!!!!

Holly said...

hey yeah...nice to know that we might have permanently damaged our hearts and they don't event think it will work??? yeeeeeeeesh...


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