Happy New Year!!!

Well, another year has passed and Patty and I are about as healthy as we can be! Patty got some amazing news just a week ago…

December 14, 2015 was Patty’s 5 year anniversary from her last Chemo. Five years! My how the time flies by. She just had an appointment with her Oncologist for her final check-up of the year. She has been seeing her every six months for the past couple of years. This was a big one for her since hitting the five-year mark post chemo gives her a greater chance of survival and being cancer free for many years to come. In addition, she was taking the medication Arimidex which lowers estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which may slow the growth of certain types of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow in the body. Patty experienced a number of side effects to the medication such as tingling of the extremities, joint pain and, one of my personal favorites… hot flashes! Not just one or two a day, but we’re talking hot flashes anytime of the day, night or morning! I’ve been wanting to get her a super hero costume with a cape and call her The Hot Flash! Poor Patty… she is the only woman I’ve known that will turn the air conditioner on in the car when it’s 32 degrees outside! If things turned out well with her appointment there was a big hope that the doctor would take her off the Arimidex! So this was a big appointment for her… and us. I generally go to every appointment with her,but unfortunately she had to do this one on her own as I had “things” to deal with at work. As usual, about a week before her appointment Mr. Elephant in the room dropped by for his semi-annual visit as I could see patty starting to withdraw a little. If you look back in past posts I’ve described how she gets about a week before any appointment so I go into my routine of trying to keep her mind off of things… I go into “stupid mode!” I joke… laugh… just try to keep her entertained. It never works but why not try.

Her appointment with the Oncologist was December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. She gave blood samples the day before and had a bone density scan. So, December 23rd finally arrived and fortunately Patty was really busy with work so that kind of kept her mind off of things… Patty went to her appointment as scheduled, apprehensive as to what news the doctor would have for her…

December 23rd at about 2:30 my phone rang. I saw it was Patty when I answered it… Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi Honey… How’d it go???
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m taking it that it went well?”
Patty: “The doctor said I graduated!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “I’m so happy!!!”
Patty: “No more Arimidex! Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”
Me: “That’s great!
Patty: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

That’s pretty much how it went! Not recommended, but she was driving and doing her happy dance at the same time in the car!

Yep… the doctor gave her a clean bill of health! She graduated! The doctor also took her off the Arimidex! No more hot flashes! No more air conditioner in the car when it’s freezing outside! No more needing to wear a wetsuit to bed! I know it all sounds selfish of me, but all I can say is: “Yippee! Yahoo! Yippie! Wooo Hoo! Yea!!! Yippa Screma Dema!!!”

We hope 2016 brings everything good to you!

The frustration of recovery!

 

Patty and friends at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life a couple weeks ago.

Patty’s recovery from the reconstruction surgery is going well.  She still has a long way to go, but overall she’s doing really well.  They started adding saline to her implant last week and she’s pretty excited to have a cleavage again!   

The initial recovery period from the surgery was pretty painful.  She hid it pretty well from me at first, but as I’ve said in many previous posts, her eyes tell the story.  She fooled me and was on the go pretty quickly.  Too quickly!  I should have known better.  Those of you who know Patty, know that she’s hard to keep down.  She wants to exercise and get back into her routine.  She can’t do it!  Not yet.  I could see she was tiring easy and “hitting the wall” by early afternoons.  So, I’ve had to put my foot down and limit her activities.  She’s begrudgingly cooperating… 

Up until surgery her “job” was watching our granddaughter, Avery.  The doctor told us that she wouldn’t be able to watch her full time again until at least 8 weeks after surgery.  She thinks it’ll take her 6 weeks, but I’m going to win this battle.  She needs to take as long as she needs.  Avery kept Patty pretty busy during the days, but now that Patty’s on her own, she gets pretty bored!  She’s been devouring a lot of books, which she loves, but she gets frustrated that she can’t do it all right now.  She’s doing so well, I just don’t want her to overdo it and, in turn, take longer for her recovery.

She has a doctor’s appointment next Monday to add more saline… a little at a time.  Right now it’s all about adding the saline which in turn stretches the skin until it’s the same size etc as the other breast. 

Patty’s been walking as often as possible… a couple miles at a time.  She’s impatiently wanting to push the walking farther to start training for the Komen walk in November!   

She needs to heal first… she has plenty of time!

We want to help you… email us.

The Lodi Zinfest – 2009

Patty and I talked last night about this blog. I was telling her that I hoped I was making a difference for people by telling the story of her, and our, battle with breast cancer from the beginning to present time. She immediately said she believed I was. I hope I am.

 I told Patty there are really only three reasons you’d read this blog: 1) You’re a friend or family member wanting to know how Patty is doing; 2) You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and you’re searching for information; or 3) You’re the husband, boyfriend, caregiver of someone diagnosed with breast cancer and you’re searching for information.

Patty and I have really wanted to give back and help people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer as well as give back to their husbands, boyfriends and/or caregivers. Thinking about the reasons why someone would read or follow this blog made us think… this blog is a great avenue to help others.

So, I’m just going to throw this out to anyone reading this blog:   If you’re going through the battle with breast cancer and want to talk… email us. It’s as simple as that. I know it’s difficult to contact us through the “comment” field at the end of a post since those “comments” are public.  Email is private. Email us about anything!  Concerns, fears, triumphs… whatever.  We’ll respond to your email as best we can from what we’ve experienced.  Every cancer is different. Every treatment is different. But sometimes, it just helps talking to someone about it.  We know… we’ve been there.

We want to help!  Email us… Ed-Patty@att.net.

Follow-up doctor appointments

 

Here’s Patty and her sisters, Kathy and Dottie, this past weekend in Coronado. 

(ok, not really, it was taken last May in Maui)

We got a couple of doctor appointments out of  the way today.  This morning we met with Patty’s reconstruction surgeon.  Overall, everything is looking “ok” but not quite up to par where he had hoped she’d be.  Things just take a long time to heal when you’re going through chemo.  One would think that having surgery back in late July, things would be perfect by now.  But the TAC that Patty had is one of the strongest chemo’s they’ve got, so things take a little longer to heal.  But, he was hopeful that everything would be good in about a month now that she has no more infusions.  It’s all about waiting for the poison to get completely out of her system.  It’s been four weeks since her last infusion so they figure it takes a good two months before it’s gone.

This afternoon we met with Patty’s oncologist.  According to her, everything is on track.  She had a blood test yesterday which revealed her white cell count to be on the low side but the oncologist didn’t seem concerned about that.  The doctor put Patty on Tamoxifen which is a hormone therapy that blocks cancer cell growth.  It’s all about beating any kind of reoccurrence!  So, she’ll take the Tamoxifen daily for two years then most likely change to a different and newer hormone therapy for a couple more years after that.  It’s all good!  Patty will go back and see her in a month to see where’s she’s at.

The big test comes up next Tuesday… the dreaded CAT Scan.  Patty’s oncologist said she wasn’t concerned about it, but then again, she’s not the one going through it!  As I said in an earlier post, Patty’s experiencing some anxiety over it and I don’t blame her in the least.  It’ll be good to just get it done and find out that things are great!  She’ll have the scan on Tuesday (the 18th) and get the results on Thursday (the 20th).  Please pray that the results of the scan snow no signs of cancer anywhere in her body. 

Overall, Patty has been doing pretty good.  The low white cell count now explains why she has had two colds in the past month, the most recent come on this past weekend.  But, she’s on the mend.  Her hair is slowly sprouting up at the rate of  a trillionth of an inch every-other-day! 

Patty’s sister Kathy and her husband, John, came to town this past Sunday.  They stayed at Lowes in Coronado and invited us to stay Sunday night, so we did.  Even though Patty was battling her cold, we had a really good time and it’s always great to see Kathy and John.  The timing was good as Patty’s brother, Jim,was also in town.  This was the first time in six years that all the Marron siblings have been together!  Family is always good for Patty!

Our little condo is officially listed for sale as of today.  We had about 15 realtors view our condo this morning while we were at the doctors.  I think I had mentioned earlier that we had put off selling the condo until we knew exactly what was going on with Patty.  But now that things are definitely looking up, it’s time to sell and get into something with some room!  Wish us luck!

So, bottom line, things are looking pretty good but, then again, things are still pending!  That’s the frustrating part!

Oh, by the way, a little bird told me that there were some complaints that I haven’t been adding pictures to my last few posts… I won’t name any names about who complained other than they start with “N” and “P” and are from Prescott, Az.  Leave it to the “zonies!”  I promise you’ll be seeing more pictures in the future.  🙂

We need to take it one day at a time!

Last night I leaned over and gave Patty a kiss on top of her shiny head and it hit me… “She’s really dealing with cancer!”  Please don’t get me wrong, we’ve been living this for the past six months, but last night was different.  It really hit me… hard!  The reality of all this came over me like a ton of bricks!  I felt bad for her and very frustrated for both of us.  I really want to fix this and make this go away for her, but I can’t.  I think I may have been running on auto-pilot for the past six months.  Having many years behind me in law enforcement, maybe my past training had taken over… whatever the problem is, handle it!  Don’t let the emotional part get in the way!  Just handle it!  

We were delivered some very frustrating news yesterday.  Without getting into specifics, Patty’s having some complications from the surgery.  (Don’t worry, there’s no more cancer)  The doctor feels they need to go back in to correct this problem.  So, surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday, Oct. 18th.  Surgery is at 1:00 p.m. and should take about an hour.  They say she’ll come home that same day.  

I’m really concerned about this procedure.  Patty just had chemo this past Tuesday.  If you remember my last post, I talked about how we’ve pretty much figured out how she’ll be feeling on a day-to-day basis over the next couple of weeks.  Well, my guess is she’ll probably be really fatigued come Monday!  Plus, they say that between day 7 through 14 following chemo, her white cells will be at their lowest and this is a time when she’s the most susceptible to infection.  My question is… How will all that affect her recovery from the surgery?  Another question I have is…  Will this procedure delay her next chemo treatment?  That’s the last thing we want!  We’re on a schedule and really don’t want any delays!  Patty put a call in to her Oncologist late yesterday to ask those specific questions.  She hasn’t gotten back to us yet.  

My hope is all this will be behind us come June 22, 2011 (Patty’s 1 year cancerversary).  Our life will be somewhat back to normal and we’ll look back at all this and say “Man, that was really messed up!”  (I do have another phrase for “messed up” but it’s probably not appropriate to put it in this post!)

“Three… two… one!”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, my wife is an amazing woman!  Yesterday was her third chemo infusion.  Yes, number three!  A milestone in her treatment!  The half way mark!  Patty was actually excited yesterday to have her next treatment!  I mean really excited!  I asked her “why?” to which she replied: “Because I’m one more treatment closer to being cancer free!”  She truly means that!  What a great positive attitude!!! 

Patty has done really well over the past week.  We’ve noticed a pattern through these treatments.  She deals with days “1 through 3” pretty well following her infusion, other than losing her taste buds.  Fatigue and body aches don’t really hit her until day “4” and lasts pretty strong through day “11”.  It seems like she starts to turn the corner about that time and begins to get stronger as each day comes.  Her taste buds start coming back about day “16” so this is when I start really cooking for Patty!  By day “18” or so, she’s doing pretty well, not back to normal, but much better than the previous week.  Then day “21” comes around and we get to do the whole cycle all over again!  

I hear people saying that this is just a “bump in the road” for us.  We’ve actually used that phrase a few times, but yesterday I had a chance to reflect on the past six months.  Sorry, but it’s hardly been a “bump.”  I don’t know the right word to describe this experience, in fact, I don’t need to find the correct word.  What I can say is that these past six months have not been easy!  But, it’s been a trial that has brought the two of us closer to each other like never before and it’s brought the two of us much closer to God. It’s been an experience that has literally turned our lives up-side-down as well as put our lives on hold.  But, you know what?  We’ve both accepted our lives for what they are right now and I’m confident we’ll get through this and carry on!  We’re both excited to see what the future has in store for us!  We talked yesterday and Patty told me that she’ll never take life for granted again.  That she wants to take in all she can daily.  We now have a new granddaughter and another grandchild on the way.  There’s a lot to look forward to! 

Since we’re trying to be as positive as we can through this ride, we’re now saying we’re on the “Countdown through Chemo”… “three… two… one!”  December 14th can’t come soon enough!

I’ve got an idea…

This is me and our granddaughter, Mia, at the pool.

When I started this blog, part of my intent was to document this journey so friends and family could keep up with what’s going on with Patty and me.  The other part was to document this journey in hopes that it could help others who may be in the same situation.  This particular post is intended for other husbands who may have just learned that their wife or girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

16 years ago I vowed to Patty that I would love, honor and cherish her in “sickness and in health.”  I meant that when I said it and I still mean it.  There has not been one moment I have ever doubted that. 

As the husband of a breast cancer victim you become the first line of defense for your wife.  You need to respond to her every worry, concern, and fear about a disease that would become almost as much yours as it is hers.

I may not have had the suspicious lump in my breast.  I didn’t physically have the surgery and all that would follow.  I’m not the one going through the chemotherapy infusions, the nausea or fatigue.  From the moment Patty told me “I have breast cancer”, I found my (our) life unravel in ways I could have never imagined nor predicted.  In a sense, the husband’s job is a tough one, maybe not as tough as hers, but it definitely has its challenges.  You not only have to make sense of cancer, the good and bad, but at the same time you have to learn how to filter information to keep your wife from falling apart. That is no small job.  I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist.   I’m not a counselor.  I’ve had no training in the world of breast cancer.  I’ve had no medical training and I’m not a doctor or a nurse.  Bottom line, I’m just a husband who loves his wife very much who is flying by the seat of his pants, and at times, struggling to do what I feel is best for my wife!

When I learned Patty had breast cancer, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could.  I thank God for the internet.  I was overwhelmed with information and I took it all in like a sponge.  I will admit, there is a lot of information regarding breast cancer that is not good news, but it’s a reality.  I had to sort through that information and cling onto the hopeful info while also being realistic.  On the other hand, Patty also wanted to know as much as she could about the disease.  As with any other woman in her shoes, her frame of mind was different from mine.  She focused on the negative information which, in turn would frighten her.  Actually “Frighten” isn’t the correct term.  Using the word “terrorize” is more appropriate.  I had to have some strict talks with Patty about researching on the internet and even threatened to put “parental controls” on the computer.  (even though I’m sure she still peeks at the internet!)

This disease is something that totally consumes your life 24 hours a day!  Being a man, I have that “male” mentality…  “I can deal with this… Don’t worry about me, I’m a guy!”  “Guys are strong… Guys eat stress for breakfast!”  I think I’ve done pretty good over the past five months.  I’ve been strong for Patty and tried to be as understanding and emphatic as I can.  I’ve had maybe two days over this time where it was very difficult for me.  Funny, but I can’t put my finger on any specific event that caused me to just want to throw my hands up, but I know I did feel that way.  I feel guilty about that!  As a result, the one good thing is that my relationship with God has become much stronger as he and I have had many discussions where I’ve prayed to him to help me stay strong!  I know he’s in my corner!  I’ve recognized that I need to take care of myself.  Bottom line, I need to take care of myself to be able to properly take care of Patty!  Recognizing this, I decided to join a Breast Cancer Support Group for husbands.  Check this out… there are NO support groups specifically designed to help the husbands of breast cancer patients!  I find that appalling. 

So, guess what.  I started doing some research and leg-work to see what I need to do to start one!  I’m really excited about this.  I may be able to do this or I may not.  But if I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be something that will be really good for me and will help other husbands in my shoes!  Wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!