Saturday, August 29, 2015

Forced to leave work early

So things have been super busy with school moving full speed ahead.  I have NOT been working my proper duty day.  I haven't been a very good leader of my new movement #workyourproperdutyday.  However, this week, I've done a pretty good job of evacuating the building close to contract time, even if I'm going to a different establishment to complete my to-do list.  (Preferably housing friendly chatter, music, and hot caffeinated beverages.)

I saw my surgeon on the 19th and she gave me the low down on my official pathology report from surgery:
3 lymph nodes (two were side-by-side) removed and they were negative for disease.  The tumor was removed with clean margins.  They did find DCIS pre-cancerous changes around the actual cancer itself.  But it was all removed, with negative margins.  (Negative = awesome in cancerland).  I am evidently now allergic to the surgery glue they use on incisions.  "Contact Dermatitis"  It can be developed over time, because my biopsy and my port surgery produced no skin reactions at all.  But now I am allergic.  So no more glue for me (and hopefully no more surgery, so it won't even matter!!)  My incisions were super red and itchy.  I didn't know one way or the other.  I assumed it was the natural healing process.  But no.  I was breaking out, and I just needed to gently scrub the glue away to solve the problem.  Two weeks later, I'm doing fine and its all cleared up.  They want to give me a chance to heal fully from the surgery and the allergic reaction before starting radiation.  4 weeks of buffer time.

That same day, we went down to radiation oncology and met my radiation doctor, nurse, and radiation therapists.  They talked us through the process:  what radiation does, the risks, possible side effects, made a schedule, did a CT scan, did a simulation, and tattooed my skin with teeny-itsy-bitsy marks so they know where to line me up each time.  I start on Sept. 8th, attend everyday, five days a week, until Oct. 22nd.  Its a 15 minute appointment.  They were able to schedule me for the latest possible time for most of the 6 weeks so that I will miss minimal work.  Basically, I will leave school at the same time as my students leave at the final bell, to book it to the hospital.  (Making up for working past my proper duty day this month)  However, for 4 days, I will have to leave 20 minutes before my final class ends.  That will be a pain, but because I have the #bestprincipalever , it will be covered by someone else in house.

The side effects I can expect are skin changes (color, peeling, texture, etc) and fatigue towards the end, which will clear up after treatment ends.  Otherwise, its painless and you don't feel a thing.  I plan to take care of myself (sleep, eat, be happy) and follow their directions completely, and hope that my side effects are minimal.

I went to yoga last night for the first time since surgery.  Oh man, 3 weeks is too long.  I've decided that I need to prioritize the yoga.  Two times over the weekend.  And MAKE TIME for a minimum of one class during the week.

There's a an anonymous teacher blog that I subscribe to, who is super awesome, smart, and funny.  "Love, Teach".  I wish I was her.  She posted something the other day about healthy choices during the school year, and it was ME, exactly.  However, I'm determined to break the pattern:

My progression of health-related thoughts at the beginning of every school year:
1. This year I'm going to stay on my healthy summer kick all the way through back-to-school! THIS IS THE YEAR!
2. Okay, I'll just eat terribly today since it's the first day of professional development. When else will I get the chance to take an hour lunch with my work buddies?
3. Oh no, I stayed at work until seven! Guess I'd better eat ALL OF THE THINGS
4. After this first crazy week I'll be back on track. Starting Monday.
5. Starting next Monday.
6. Okay, baby steps. I'll start working out this week.
7. Why the heck would I work out when I'm on my feet ALL DAY?!
8. Literally the only way I can relax right now is if I eat a brownie the size of my face.
10. I'm going to buy this compartmentalized lunch container so that it's easier to pack vegetables.
11. I would like to fill all of these compartments with cheese.
I had a good chuckle over that.  And I'm super proud of myself that I got my lesson plans done friday night, and now I'm enjoying a whole 48 hours of free time from work.  Filling it with blogging, reading, hanging with Superman and the dogs, trip to the library, watching movies, cleaning the house, etc.   Ahhhhhh, the weekend.  :)

Friday, August 14, 2015


I had an appointment with my oncologist yesterday.  She discussed the pathology results with us.  Everything was the same as they reported on the day of surgery:  The cancer was taken out with super clean margins and the lymph nodes were clear.
We talked about radiation and got the ball rolling setting up appointments for that.  This will start in about 4 weeks.  And they gave me information about Tamoxifan, which I'll begin taking after radiation.

It was fun walking into oncology and seeing all the nurses and staff light up and congratulate me on the successful surgery.

Its very surreal and I'm still processing the whole bit in my head and how I think/feel about it all.  Here's this thing that totally up-ended my life, and now things are returning to somewhat normalcy.  My energy is coming back.  I discovered this morning that my eyelashes are growing back and I got SUPER EXCITED.  The incisions are healing nicely and I can almost move around as normal.  Though still following the "don't lift over 25 lbs" rule for another week.

But, the surreal thing is:  the cancer is gone.  They took it out.  They solved the problem.  Everything from here on out is preventative measures to ensure it doesn't come back.  craziness.  I made it, everyone!  All those sad moments I experienced and reminded myself of the goal.  This was the goal. Cancer = gone.

Let's keep it that way!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cancer Eviction (Surgery was a success!)

I haven't written for awhile because:
1.  School started.  Super busy.
2.  Terrified silence regarding upcoming surgery.

Good news.  Surgery is over.  And I made it through the trauma of those stupid nipple injections for the sentinel lymph node biopsy.   Let's be honest.  They were horrible.  But enough about that.  Let's get to the good part.

The tumor was removed with nice big clean margins!!!  And the 3 lymph nodes removed were clean from cancer!!!  Which means the possibility that the cancer spread beyond its original site is very very slim.  I am still waiting for the official pathology report.  The pathologist analyzes the lymph nodes right there during surgery so they can decide if they need to take more.  Its just a quick analysis, so there is still a chance that there are micro-bits of cancer when they go and do the real thorough analysis.  But even then, it will be fine because I'll be doing radiation (for 6 wks) and hormone therapy (for 5 years. a pill) after this.

I considered myself the lucky one out of my crew gathered at the hospital.  All I had to do was go to sleep and let them operate on me, with immediate answers as soon as I woke up.  My superman, mom, dad, and sister, had to sit and wait for two hours for answers.  haha.

I went home almost immediately after waking up.  Had some apple sauce, water, narcotics, then got dressed and went home.  Pretty awesome.  At least, I think that's what happened.  I was really out of it.  I do know that my largest side-effect from anesthesia is crying my eyes out upon waking.  I'm such a weirdo.  I had a little bit of an upset stomach later in the day. I think it was due to the narcotic instead of the anesthesia.  I took some of my chemo nausea medicine and that helped settle things.  I didn't really eat until late in the evening though.

After coming home from the hospital, my super-parents and super-sister sat with me for hours on the couch while I laid down and couldn't keep my eyes open.   They must have been bored, but not sure because I was not awake.  They were sitting with me while superman helped super-daughter who was moving into her FIRST APARTMENT yesterday.  Meanwhile, super-son was at band camp.  A busy time in the Reynolds household.  And to think we almost bought a house, and could've been moving at this exact time too.  whew!  Things work out the way they are supposed to...

I'm feeling pretty good.  I haven't taken any more of the narcotics and have stuck to IBprofen.  My throat is sore from the breathing tube during surgery, and that's bothering me more than anything right now.  I'm sure things will get more painful when I actually start healing.  I remember from my port scar, when it was put in, that there were bouts of occasional shooting pain when it was starting to heal.  I touched my armpit near the lymph node scar, and it was NUMB!  That was creepy.  I had read that some people experience that because there's no way to avoid severing some of the nerves during the biopsy.  But many people regain most of their feeling back as it heals.

So far today, I've been laying on the couch, drinking water, made an avocado-banana smoothie.  Superman went to the farmers market and came back with blackberries.  So he made blackberry-stuffed french toast.  #theyummiest!!!!!
I colored in my Disney Princess coloring book for awhile, and I'm currently watching Bachelor-In-Paradise.  Not my proudest choice in viewing entertainment, but its like a car wreck.  These bachelor shows, I can't stop watching them.

So, the next step, like I mentioned before:
1.  Radiation therapy for 6 weeks.  This consists of a 15 minute appt everyday.
2.  Hormone therapy.  Tamoxifan pill for the next 5 years.

And most importantly, working on increasing my healthy choices, adopting food as thy medicine, living a more active lifestyle, and maintaining physical, mental, and emotional balance.  I saw this the other day, and thought it was very fitting.