What a difference a year makes…

A year ago I was in the “T” part of my AC-T chemotherapy, had no hair, was taking Neulasta shots and lots of long naps, looking ahead to radiation treatment, and planning life around treatments and other medical appointments.  Today, I am through my treatment, cancer free, have curly baby hair that was long enough to cut for the first time yesterday, and am energetic and busy.  I take two pills a day and see my medical oncologist and my radiation oncologist each once every 3 months.  I completed an aggressive 3-month cancer rehabilition program with New Horizons Physical Therapy which left me stronger and more fit than I had been in years, and helped put me back in charge of my wellness.  Jerry and I joined a gym and go together every week but are still trying to reach a steady state of 3 times per week.  I am back to yoga once a week (when I don’t over-schedule).  I’m enjoying my women’s investment club, have just joined a new book club, and golf at least once a week.  I did my first serious yard work in a lo-o-ong time over the weekend (and look it when I try to stand up or sit down!) and am loving weather that invites us outside.  We are planning a trip to Germany in September.  Life is good.

For those who may follow on my path, I do have a few lingering affects.  I take Femara (2.5 mg), an aromitase inhibitor, to prevent my body producing estrogen, which stimulates the type of cancer I had.  It’s part of the “defense in depth” approach to treatment.  The standard program is one a day for 5 years.  It’s known to produce joint pain, which I am experiencing.  Nothing debilitating, but something that has to be lived with.  It mostly seems to affect my “hinge” joints — elbows, wrists, knees, fingers — with fingers being the most noticable at this point.  They stiffen up at night as I sleep and I have to kind of wake them up in the morning to get them working well.  The stiffness has now morphed to joints that sort of lock in my left thumb and right ring finger during the night, but I can still work it out when I get up and get going.  I need to research any linkage between Femara and arthritis-like symptoms.  During the day, my hands just feel a bit stiff as I use them.  Hasn’t hurt (or helped) my golf game.  đŸ™‚

Also, I still have some residual tenderness and stiffness as a result of my surgery — primarily the axillary node dissection (removal of lymph nodes) under my left arm.  Even after months of physical therapy, there is a pulling sensation when I extend my left arm to its fullest, and there is a tender area in proximity to the surgery site (or perhaps the drain site?).  The primary site where the tumor was removed is a non-issue though it’s sensitive and I’m inclined to protect it when I do a yoga pose that requires lying on my front.  There are minor perceivable changes to the breast tissue that was radiated.   My exercises are important to keeping everything stretched and limber.  I can tell a difference when I’ve failed to get to the gym on schedule.

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