We Can Rebuild Her
Better than she was before… Better, Stronger, Happier. A Breast Cancer Journal

Silence

Chemo-hangover and steroid withdrawal, like icy prods, seek deep sadnesses and chase them to my surface.

Robbed of my fortitude by these chemicals, I writhe.

But I’ve learned, these months, that this darkness will fade.

‘Til then, apt words from Phyllis McGinley…

Sticks and stones are hard on bones
Aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything
But silence breaks the heart.

Phyllis McGinley, “Ballade of Lost Objects,” 1954



More Borrowed Words here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea April 6, 2010

April 6, 2010 at 5:22 am.

4 comments

Chemo Prescriptions Underway: Check √

Today is chemo#5 — and Taxotere#2.

In an effort to beat the week-long agony of the last round, I’m already digging deep into my tickle trunk of prescriptions.

I’m heading into it much better prepared than last time. I treated myself to one of my chemo#4 sleeping pills and enjoyed a full 8 hours of sleep (the steroids prevent sleep).

Let’s hope the rest of these do their jobs just as well and my chemo recovery is awesome.

…Otherwise, Luba will have one long and gruesome March Break.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010 at 8:30 am.

4 comments

Oncology Update: Q & A

No surrogate at my pre-chemo#5 oncology appointment today. Here’s the scoop:

  • Can I avoid the full week of Taxotere-induced agony this round? If so, how?
    The answer was pretty much “Not really”. My oncologist entered the room shrugging and saying “I told you Taxotere would be bad”. She recommended I extend my steroids (dexamethasone) further beyond the 5x8mg doses and to take any combination of my many prescriptions that may help, as needed.
  • What’s her opinion of my long-debated bilateral mastectomy?
    My oncologist is not against the bilateral mastectomy and would support it if it puts my mind at ease. Apparently, though, there is no evidence that would prompt her to recommend it. She gave us the bad news that recurrence in the breast is not as likely as spread elsewhere in the body. Obviously, I can’t remove every organ in my body so I don’t think I’ll put myself through this major surgery “just in case”.
  • When does radiation start? And is it still within walking distance of our place?
    We will meet with our radio-oncologist in the near future to address these questions. It sounds like radiation is no longer available walking distance from our place, though. darn.
  • Can I ask now about plans for my ovaries?
    Yes, I was allowed to ask. The answer was, “We’ll see.”
  • What’s with the sunken, bright read hollows under each of my eyes?
    After hearing about the various possibilities of recurrence and spread of the cancer, I really didn’t care about the look of my face.
  • Is my 105 year old skin here to stay?
    See above.

Scary news or no, I still plan to survive and thrive.

Maybe not long enough to grow my own 105 year old skin, but for a long — healthy, happy — time.



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm.

8 comments

Exhaustion

After a certain number of sleepless nights, doesn’t your body have to finally fall asleep?

Pain or no pain?

Important Update:
I finally got my pain medication to take the edge off my many complaints and was able to sleep for almost 3 hours today.

I never thought I’d be so happy to feel so rotten.

Phew!



Andrea Posted by Andrea February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010 at 11:44 am.

2 comments

I don’t know why, but that’s it

I don’t know why, but that’s it.

For the first time since my first surgery way back in October, I’m throwing in the towel and going right back to bed. No juicing, no supplements, no exercise, no shower.

I know it’s chemo and I’m grateful to be doing as well as I am.

But I’m outa here and I mean it this time.

I don’t need a justification (I’m living it), but if you do, here’s a partial list:

  • two days of throbbing aches all over, numbness, disorientation, weepiness and stomach woes – no appetite, limited taste, sore throat, tongue, ears, teeth, head
  • two nights of writhing in pain and delirium
  • one thawed canal
  • one slushy, grey world
  • two thread-bare, ten year old boots soaking two already aching feet with icy slush
  • one first ever sleeping pill at 3am this morning
  • one puffy, quickly aging, eyelash-free face
  • one transmuting port-a-cath
  • and did I mention our insurance company and broker are both robbing us blind and ruining our lives?
  • oh ya, and the police knocked on our door early this morning informing me that I’m due in court April 28 and 29 as a witness against my bully of a “father” as a result of his attempt to break in to our home on April 5, 2009?

Is that a reason? I mean, is that a reason?

Oh, and today’s my half-birthday. Which means it’s six months since this all began. Halfy Birthday to me.



Andrea Posted by Andrea February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010 at 9:01 am.

13 comments

Oncology Update: Mysteries Solved

Woohoo! All mysteries were solved at my pre-chemo-2 oncology appointment today:

  • Why is my port-a-cath migrating in my chest?
    Apparently, this is just the result of reduced swelling around the incision (just like Mark told me it was).
  • What’s with the new lump just above my lumpectomy incision?
    Apparently, this is just the result of increased swelling and scar tissue around the incision (just like Bayla told me it was — in fact she had a whole blog post explaining her theory but we didn’t allow her computer time).
  • Why are my forearms and wrists weak and painful since chemo #1?
    No specific response to this but likely in line with steroid response, below.
  • How much will the port-a-cath puncture hurt?
    Thanks to an Emla patch and a hilarious and spunky nurse, the puncture barely hurt at all (although my major squeamishness about the whole thing still needs some work).
  • Can I avoid the 3 day post-steroid hangover following chemo without giving up my beloved post-chemo steroids? If so, how?
    Turns out I was accidentally given a prescription for twice the intended dose of steroids. No wonder I was hit with major munchies, turbo energy and a surge of creative brilliance throughout my rockin’ post-chemo-1 weekend! Much to my disappointment, my doctor has halved my dosage for this round to avoid the 3 day post-steroid hangover. Fingers crossed chemo is totally fabulous (and effective) this round…



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm.

7 comments

Gearing up for Chemo #2

Mysteries which I hope are solved at my pre-chemo oncology appointment today:

  • Why is my port-a-cath migrating in my chest?
  • What’s with the new lump just above my lumpectomy incision?
  • Why are my forearms and wrists weak and painful since chemo #1?
  • How much will the port-a-cath puncture hurt?
  • Can I avoid the 3 day post-steroid hangover following chemo without giving up my beloved post-chemo steroids? If so, how?

Stay tuned…



Andrea Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer October 6, 2009 and intends to survive and thrive. You can read more from Andrea here.

Andrea Posted by Andrea January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010 at 7:04 am.

1 comment

Head shaving party

It was 3 a.m. on the second day of her first chemo cycle and Andrea still couldn’t get to sleep. So she occupied herself with plans for shaving her head before her hair falls out — a certainty with breast cancer chemo. That’s when she pitched her idea to me (I was also awake). Inspired by a cancer blogger who lives in our neighbourhood (See going bald), Andrea suggested we invite a number of our family and friends over for munchies, drinks, cake and the opportunity to be a part of her head shaving experience.

That party happened last night (view photos). And with it, comes the launch of this website, WeCanRebuildHer.com.

We invite you to follow our journey to making Andrea a breast cancer survivor. We’ll blog our experiences and thoughts and share audio, video and photographs of the process — from diagnosis on Oct. 6  to Survivor.

Opening theme prepared by John Meadows. Closing song, Session, by the Robert Farrell Band.

Click here to subscribe to our blog/podcast.



We’ve had our audio recorders running during a good chunk of our journey. You can hear more audio collages here.

Mark Posted by Mark December 28, 2009

December 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm.

22 comments