T-minus 6 days

Hi Team KLB!

The end of chemo came and went and I am enjoying my time before surgery. The cupcakes and cocktails was awesome! Thanks to those of you that joined us!  Overall, I’m feeling pretty good, but I’m still more tired than normal, I still have neuropathy in my fingers and toes, my muscles are still weak. My hair is starting to grow back, it’s quite fuzzy on my head :-). Some of you may have seen that we were able to take a trip to Pittsburgh to attend a friend’s wedding. We had a great time. I’m glad we finally got to have a bit of fun!

Mini-rant here: apparently the TSA thinks a head scarf = terrorist, because I got extra searched after going through the x-Ray scanner. Jim was about to lose his shit. Luckily it was quick. It was just me that they “randomly” searched both ways. I have never been randomly searched before. We didn’t let that ruin our trip, but it was ridiculous. They obviously have never had cancer because I don’t have time to plot an elaborate terrorist plan using my head scarf, I have healing and living to do. Terrorism isn’t on my agenda. Duh!

I went to visit my students today during our VIP reading week. I was a guest reader. They were very excited- I was like celebrity 🙂 We still have a few fight shirts left- if you still want one, let me know. $15 each. Men’s shirts run true to size, women’s shirts run small. Here’s a list of what’s available: MENS: one medium, two large, one x-large, two xx-large. WOMENS: one small, two large, one xx-large.

My surgery is scheduled for next Thursday 11/20. As of now, I’m nervous, but I’m sure I will be. I hope to deal with the emotions of it when it’s actually happening/ happened. I have made a google doc for meals mad walking buddies and Christmas decorations help- if that’s your thing, you’d enjoy it more than Jim will (I love to decorate for Christmas and would be really sad if there weren’t any decorations up this year.) Please remember that we are gluten free. In general we eat paleo, which for us means: limited grains and dairy, but as long as it is gluten free, I’m happy. (Beggars can’t be choosers.) As always, thanks again for your continued love and support. You’re awesome.

Xoxo,

Katie

Rants and Raves

Team KLB,

Okay folks, here you have it. The week I’m feeling like shit and hating everything, it’s only fitting that I complain a bit. This is not because I want a pity party, but just need to vent. I’m fully aware that this too shall pass and in general I like to think that I’m not a huge complainer (we all have our moments) but this time I’m going big. I thought I might put them in order from worst to least bad, but that would be really challenging, especially since there would likely be a five way tie for first place. I know I’ll get through this last week of feeling like crap, but…
– Diarrhea. Period.

– This damn BRCA mutation and anyone in my family that might also have it.

– Rashes because of having to have a picc line. Rashes that are like 50 whiteheads oozing. Then the nurse saying that “it’s not that disgusting”. Wait, if this was your arm with this nasty rash, how would you feel, nurse?

– CANCER CANCER CANCER. Period.

– Hot flashes.

– Having to have a Picc line and therefore having to take “bottom half” baths.

– The fear of being plagued by this cancer bullshit for the rest of my life.

– Jackasses on the road (I know, not cancer related, but these bay area roads are getting out of control).

– And traffic while we’re at it.

– Having to cancel TWO vacations this year due to cancer bullshit (Aruba in June and our Post Chemo, Pre Surgery trip to Cabo that was supposed to happen next week).

– Chemo being delayed by a week.

– When the doctor and nurse saw my lowered liver enzyme levels, (after chemo was delayed) and they wondering what could have lowered them. I said that I ate well (clean, healthy protein, cruciferous veggies, beets, etc.), drank lots of water, and limited my sugar and they said that can’t be it. But never offered another reasonable explanation. Fury level reached maximum. Well, Doc, if you’re not able to explain it, then I guess I’m right. Food does impact how our bodies and organs perform. Sorry Doc. I’m right.

– My lack of control over everything breast cancer.

– When I ask the Doc “what can I do?”, and the Doc says “just eat normally”. BAD doctors. At least tell people to eat more fruits and veggies and get some exercise. Would that be so hard? There’s no way it could hurt.

– Chemo brain and chemo weight gain.

– Radiation, which I apparently will need to have for five weeks. Bah.

– Adrymicin and the infiltration (aka chemical burn to my forearm) that gets re-aggravated with each chemo session. My arm not being able to heal because of chemo.

– My bald head getting cold now that it’s cooling down.

– Not being able to sleep while on the ‘roids.

– Hearing on multiple occasions, “you’re too young to have cancer”. Umm, Clearly not. Don’t make statements like that. *Especially*, if you’re a doctor.

– When things don’t go according to my “plan”. Aka chemo infiltration, picc line having to be put in, plans changing, etc. I have so little that is under my control, when things don’t go as planned, I’m even less flexible than normal.

– When I’m feeling like crap and people saying something like “you’re so strong” instead of “that sucks” or “I’m sorry”. Sometimes people just want to have their feelings validated and there isn’t a need to cheer a person up. Just listen. Feelings aren’t always positive and it’s okay to acknowledge them with out trying to cheer the person up. It can invalidate very real feelings by just saying, “you’ll just fine”. [that may have sounded harsh or mean, but a) this is for rants and raves b) they are my feelings and I’m entitled to all of them, good and bad]. This is something that we talk about at support group and something that I needed to learn too.

 

Well, I feel like I’ve gotten everything off my chest. (Haha, joke!) Surgery has been scheduled for November 20th at El Camino Hospital. I’ll spend one-two nights in the hospital and then be home recovering. I hope I’ll get to enjoy some thanksgiving goodies.

<3,

Katie

10/8/14

Team KLB,

On the eve before my LAST CHEMO!!!!!, I thought I’d update everyone as to what’s going in the world of Breast Cancer. (I’m trying not to be too excited just in case my blood work doesn’t come back with good levels, but it’s hard to not be extremely excited.) We did a “it’s the night before my last chemo” dance and it felt great!! I have felt the best that I’ve felt throughout chemo during this last round (well the last 10 days of it). I attribute that to clean eating (good protein, lots of fruits and veggies, seeds, and limited dairy, carbs, and sugar) and LOTS of water. I recently read Your Body’s Many Cries for Water and decided I needed to up my game. As always, feel free to wear some pink tomorrow and shoot me a selfie (I will be compiling these eventually). I’ve got some *special pink* for tomorrow that I will post as usual.

Still planning on doing my rants and raves post because I have PLENTY to complain about, but I’ll save that for next week when I feel like a$$ and need to vent/complain/have a pity party. Stayed tuned! It should mostly make you laugh 🙂

So long as chemo goes as planned tomorrow, here’s what I’m looking at:

~ PICC line out TOMORROW! (another happy dance is needed for this)

~ A Cupcakes and Cocktails party on the last day of this cycle to celebrate the official end of chemo. I’m not going to be in full blown celebration tomorrow, because I still have to endure the round of chemo (actually getting the chemo infusion doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t set in until a few days in). But I will be in full blown celebration mode at the end of the round. Once chemo happens tomorrow, I’ll post an evite to this page. Again, STAY TUNED. And please RSVP, you know I’m anal about these things, plus I want to make sure there are enough cupcakes. 🙂 CUPCAKES!!!

~ Mastectomy and reconstruction! Still waiting on an exact date but we’re looking at the week before Thanksgiving. After both the appointment with the surgeon and the appointment with the plastic surgeon, I’m not sure why, but I felt very excited. Probably because I can see the end nearing. I’m sure I’ll be freaked out on the days leading up to surgery, but for now I’ll enjoy the feeling of excitement (hasn’t been a common feeling since May-ish, so it’s nice).

~ Recovery takes about 8 weeks and I can’t lift things over 5 pounds for the first few weeks, so if you’re willing and able, trips to the grocery store, pet food store, water store, and meals would be super helpful. I’ll post a google calendar to this page soon. Visitors and walking buddies will still be much appreciated during recovery too. They’ll be filling my expanders once each week during this time to slowly stretch the skin for the implants.

~ In January-ish – Five weeks of radiation (five days each week). Not really looking forward to this, since I didn’t think I needed it initially and therefore it’s not a part of “my plan”. But I know the side effects are less than those for chemo – mostly fatigue. After surgery & radiation I might have to fly with a compression sleeve on my right arm (because they are removing lymph nodes) to avoid permanent lymphedema (swelling of the arm). I’m not sure if I’ll be back to work during this time or not. Many people have said the fatigue is too much, so we’ll see.

~ Six months after the end of radiation I can have my expanders swapped out for implants. After that, I can have a out patient surgery to make nipples and then a final out-patient surgery to have areola tattooed on. All of this will be done by the plastic surgeon. He also said that everything related to my breasts will be covered by insurance for the rest of my life – federal law. That was awesome news. We have also met our yearly out of pocket for insurance. That was awesome news too.

Well, that’s about it. Thanks for being the most amazing people that you are. You effing rock, I love you.

XOXOXO,

Katie

Things Cancer has Taught Me

Hi friends!

Well it’s been a while since my last post. All is well. In going to my support groups, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned since all of this began just three month ago. There are things that I’m grateful for and things that really piss me off. Today, I’ll post about the things cancer has taught me, and I’ll save my rants and raves for another post.

1. When someone you care about gets diagnosed with something (anything), it’s hard to know what to say. For me, I know I would probably cry if I talk with someone about their scary diagnosis, so I know I’ve avoided it in the past. BAD KATIE! I now know that whatever I do/say, I need to do/say something. Whether it is a call, a card, a text, an email, it doesn’t matter, just doing something to show that I care is what matters. Since my diagnosis, so many people have reached out to me (some that I’m close to, some that I’m not close to – even the checker at whole foods gave me a hug!!) and I have learned that people just want to know that others are rooting for them in their time of need. Obviously, I have the best team ever, because I am constantly reminded of this. This was lesson number one and a lesson I needed to learn.

2. Don’t take a single moment for granted. While I know that I am going to be cancer free very soon and I am going to live a long and healthy life, hearing “it’s cancer” makes you think about your mortality. After one of my first doctors appointments, I had dinner with friends and family because I wanted to spend as much time as I have with people that are important to me. I remembering telling Jim, “Life is for living” which to means that I’d like to spend as much time as I can doing the things I love and spending time with the people I love.

3. Everything is normal, until it’s not. That was on a billboard about strokes that I used to pass on my way to/from Bauman College. For the first few weeks after my diagnosis, that saying came back to me many times because it definitely suited the situation. I feel like, at times, I took my health for granted, and once I was no longer healthy I wished that I had been better to myself (eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.).

4. Get off my butt and exercise! I know that I am totally guilty of complaining about not wanting to workout or exercise after a long day of work or just because I’m feeling lazy. But now that my ability to exercise has been very limited, I wish so badly that I could go for a run, bike ride, hike, or swim. Looking into the future, when I feel like skipping out on my exercise, I’m going to remember this time and make myself do it. PLUS, exercise is super important in disease prevention/reduction of symptoms.

5. It’s okay to cry. Whenever. For whatever reason(s).

6. The people that are most important in my life are the people that have been supportive through my time of need. People that haven’t been supportive, aren’t people that I need in my life. True colors….

7. Dogs are awesome. Jax, Zoe, Izzi, and Pismo have been the BEST company to have with me each day. If you don’t have a dog, I highly recommend reconsidering that decision. 🙂

8. Being more grateful. I started my #100happydays project to help me with being more grateful for the good things in my life and the timing for the project couldn’t have been more appropriate. It has now become my #cancerbabeshappydays project and it has helped me to realize that being grateful and appreciating the good things is really valuable. (If you’re not on FB/IG, I try to post a picture of something that has made me happy each day and I include the hashtag #cancerbabeshappydays.)

9. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s also okay to be weak and vulnerable. It’s all a part of life. We’re in this together.

10. I have the best team. I know that I’ve said this before, but I really mean it, and it comes straight from the heart. You all are **AMAZING**. Thank you. I love you.

Well… that’s it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that I’m grateful for cancer, because well, then I’d be a masochist. And I’m not a fan of the “everything happens for a reason” or the “it’s part of god’s plan” BS either (I’m agnostic). But I am grateful for the person that I’m becoming because of it. I have learned a lot and I know I will continue to do so.

XOXO

Katie

8/8/14

Hi #teamklb,

The chemo session last week had some complications. The first drug they give me, Adriamycin, is what they call a vesicant – can irritate the skin and veins. They have to be super careful that none gets on my skin or the nurse’s skin and to clear the veins with saline as they push it through the syringe. On its way in this time it really hurt my veins and Chemo is NOT supposed to hurt. My arm was red and swollen and still is today. The day after chemo, I went in and they took pictures, measurements, etc. and they had the doctor look at it. He said that he doesn’t think it leaked into surrounding tissues, but that the vein is just irritated by the drug. So they have scheduled me to have a picc line put in. This is like a more permanent IV line put into my arm and feeds into a much larger artery which means I shouldn’t have this issue with my veins being irritated. It’s scheduled for Tuesday 8/12 at El Camino Hospital. It’s about an hour long procedure and I can go home that day. If you know me well, you know that this is the kind of shit that really scares me and while I know in my head that this is very minor, I really wish this didn’t have to happen. And I’m pissed that’s it’s the week that I’ll be feeling better from chemo, because it’s going to be taken up by this bullshit. Anyways, we’ll being wearing some pink that day too, even though it’s not a chemo day. Thank you again for all of your love and support.

Xoxo,

Katie

7/30/14

TeamKLB,

Round three of chemo starts tomorrow. I think I’m ready. This round of chemo was different than last round, but not too bad. The first round I got some rashes on my hands and the skin on my fingers were peeling, and I also broke out (pimples) on my face. But I normally take a skin supplement called Sibu – sea buckthorn oil which is rich in omega-7 and is good for hair, skin, and nails. I’ve been taking it since March and I’ve noticed much less acne on my face and much stronger nails. During the first round of chemo my throat was really soar for most of the time and so I stopped taking my supplements. Plus, let’s be honest, getting up and taking supplements before bed required WAY too much energy. But since I started taking them towards the end of round one and all throughout round two, no facial breakouts, no rashes, and no peeling skin! yay!

I did feel a bit more nauseous this time, but I still only had to take the anti-nausea meds about 3 times. I still need to eat small meals and keep my blood sugar up, or else the nausea tends to occur. I felt more emotional with round two (can you say pity party?) but I’ve heard from other breast cancer survivors that one of the drugs, Zoladex, can make you more emotional. The Zoladex was new for round two. It is a seed that gets implanted through a shot (larger needle) so they numbed me with Lidocaine first and then implanted it. It dissolves over four weeks and then I get it again. The Zoladex is a drug that preserves fertility, and has also been found to help fight the cancer. It increases your odds of getting pregnant post chemo from 40% to 60%. In order to preserve fertility, it puts you into early menopause (chemo also does this). I’m still waiting on the hot flashes! We aren’t planning to procreate post chemo, but if it will help fight the cancer, then I’m game. The other three chemo drugs that I’m on are Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and Taxotere. I’ve heard this is the “gold standard” of chemo drugs for breast cancer.

I generally feel tired, but okay on days 1-3/4 of the cycle, feel like crap (read: SUPER TIRED) on days 4/5-10 of the cylce and then from days 11-21, I feel more like a human being and I feel up to doing normal things, like driving, housework, hanging out with friends, and homework. I’m still going to school to be a nutritionist through Bauman College, but I have switched to their online program and I do everything from home.

Right before each round is over, I have to get my blood drawn to check my white blood cell counts (BTW – I have NOT passed out once with all these needle shits. I’m becoming one tough broad with all of these procedures, shots, IVs, etc. all of which give me the heebie jeebies) and then I meet with the doctor and he clears me for the next round. After round one, the tumor that I could feel (there are two, one I can feel and one I can’t; obviously the one I discovered was the one I can feel) felt smaller to both myself and the doctor. 🙂 but after this round it is more noticeable to both myself and my doctor. He did say that it felt less firm to him, which could be good because you want to attack tumors from the inside out. This means you’re killing it at the epicenter and maybe the tumor cell wall is dying. He still thinks we should go forth with round three of chemo. After round three, I have a breast MRI scheduled, where they will be able to tell what’s really happened. If the tumor is shrinking like they want it to, I will continue with three more rounds. If it is not shrinking enough, then I will have mastectomy surgery early. I plan to also get a second opinion at Stanford with my MRI results, just to make sure that another doctor agrees with whatever my oncologist says.

A couple of fun facts about my experience (in case you know someone going through this, you can share it with them, AND this may be TMI, but it’ll make you laugh): I’ve lost nearly all body hair, still remaining is: arm hair, nose hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes (no more shaving or waxing!! 🙂 and the bowel movements are quite a bit different (especially for someone that is quite regular like myself, I know TMI, but I’m going to be a nutritionist, and we all should be more open about this topic), one morning on my way to the bathroom (which I have only 5 minutes to get to, once I have to go), I though I had a fart, turned out to be a shart! Afterwards, I went and told Jim “oops, I crapped my pants!”. We got a good laugh out of that.

Thanks to all the walking buddies, I appreciate you getting me out there! Thanks for all the offers too! I will continue to need walking buddies for many months to come, so keep the messages coming. 🙂

Team KLB shirts: We’re (by that I mean Jim, I deserve no credit) still working on the shirts, but have run into a snafu. We’ll keep you posted!

Thank you to everyone that has registered for the Hers Keep Abreast Walk/Run in Fremont on Sept. 27th. I’m beyond honored that people are walking in my name. ((love & hugs)) Jim and I are registered for the 5k walk, but there will be people running too. Feel free to sign up for whatever you prefer. Here’s the link HERS KEEP ABREAST 2014 – Team Registration – Adult 18 & Over – Group/Team Registration

Many people have offered to bring us food. If you’re interested, please note that we are Gluten Free and we eat very little dairy. Also since toxins build up in meats and many produce, and now is not a time for me to ingest more toxins, we eat grass fed & finished, pasture raised, organic, and non gmo whenever possible. That being said, that food is PRICEY and it’s more complicated to make GF, DF food. SO if you’re not up for it, I totally get it. Our dietary restrictions are challenging, please do not feel obligated in any way. (This is just a good way for me to get info out to mass groups of people.) If you are interested in bringing something by, I don’t have a calendar set up, but have thought about it, until then shoot me a PM, text, or email. Soups, fruits, and veggies are the foods that are most appealing to my deadened taste buds.

Last, but not least, if you’re up for it, put on some pink swag tomorrow and join me in saying eff cancer!!

Thanks #teamklb for all the love and support. I heart you all! Smooch!!

<3,

Katie

7/12/14

TeamKLB,

Second round of chemo is going a bit better than the first so far. Definitely tired, but maybe a bit less tired than before. Or maybe I’m just used to having less energy? Hair shaving party went well. It was a very emotional day for me, and considering that I’m quite the crier, I didn’t cry too much. 😉 I definitely had some second thoughts about whether to have the party. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the party, but in the end, it was the right decision for me to be surrounded by #teamklb. I felt loved and supported and it was easier for me show my bald head to world after showing it to y’all first. Thanks to those of you who made it, and to those of you that were there in spirit. It trHair shaving partyuly means a lot. My hairstylist came and did my makeup first, which I think was a good decision for me. Thanks Laura! A good friend of mine took photos for me. Thanks Vanessa! Thanks for the food, the positive energy, and the gifts that I continue to receive – you are all too generous!  I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.

 

I recently read Anticancer, by David Servan-Schreiber. Highly recommended by the way! He helps to bridge the gap between what your doctors are telling you and what they aren’t telling you – like what you can do to help yourself. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want to hear – give me some control and power when I feel like I have no control and no power over this situation.  He is an MD and a PHD and a two time brain cancer survivor- so this isn’t quackery here! Main recommendations: 1) eat a diet similar to what we already eat – lots of plants, quality meats, low sugar, low refined carbs, low poor fats, 2) meditation 3) support groups, 4) exercise. This brings me to my “favors”. One, there are two support groups that I’d like to attend, but they’re on Tuesday nights in Palo Alto and I’m not driving much these days. If you’re interested and free on the first and third Tuesdays, let me know and we can talk details. Two, I’m interested in trying to go for a walk everyday -30 minutes is recommended, and I’d like a buddy to help me get motivated to get out when I’m feeling tired and to be there on the walks with me just in case I’m not feeling good and I don’t want to be far from home and alone. I’m thinking evenings to avoid the heat and sun (chemo drugs and sun don’t mix well). Again, hit me up if you like to be a regular walking buddy or an occasional buddy. I’m open to whatever.

Again, #teamklb, I’m eternally grateful.

Xoxoxo,

Katie

7/5/14

Team KLB

On Thursday 7/3, I met with the genetic counselor and learned that I have the BRCA1 genetic mutation. The good news is this helps to explain my cancer and why I got it at such a young age. The not so good news is this means I’m at a higher risk for a second breast cancer and for ovarian cancer. Also it increases my risk for pancreatic cancer as well as melanoma.

My mom and Jared will also have the genetic testing done so that we can learn about prevention for those family members that may also carry the gene. (This gene also increases risk of male breast cancer and prostate cancer.)

What this means is that I will likely have a double mastectomy and reconstruction as well as an oophorectomy (ovaries and fallopian tubes removed). This significantly reduces my risk for either breast or ovarian cancer later. While this is shitty, I’d rather go through this one time and then move on with my life. My decisions aren’t final and I will do more research first, but this is the plan at this point. The other genetic mutations that I was tested for came back negative and they would have increased my risk for many other types of cancers. In other news, I’m feeling like myself again and can carry out normal daily activities without exhaustion. Thank you for your continued support, love, and kindness. You are all the most amazing people and I am lucky to be able to call you my friends and family.

XOXOXO

6/30/14

TeamKLB

Today is day 13 in the first chemo cycle. Many of you have asked how I’ve been doing. The answer is surprisingly well. I’ve had very little nausea and as long as eat small meals frequently, I’m okay. My main symptom is exhaustion and it’s like nothing that I’ve ever felt before. Just sitting and talking with people wears me out. OUT. But the good news is that I’ve had more energy the past few days. During days 15-21, I should feel more like myself. YES!! I also had the most painful aches in my bones on days 7-8. It was the strangest feeling and nothing made it better except Tylenol. Thank heavens for Tylenol. This was likely due to the Neulasta shot that I got on day 2. This shot boosts your white blood cells since the chemo effects them. (white blood cells are produced in the bones, which I’m sure you all know, but the teacher in me…)  I’m also susceptible to infection since I have low white blood cell counts and my body can’t fight off infection as well as it normally does (so if you plan to visit me and are sick, please reschedule! 🙂

I have also started losing my hair 🙁 They said it would happen around day 21, so I plan to shave it on day 20. Hopefully it will last me until my hair shaving. Which brings me to the hair shaving party. Anyone that would like to come see the new bald me and the new me with wigs, is welcome to come over next Tuesday 7/8. Feel free to bring snacks or drinks. 6:00 at our place. Be forewarned: I will cry. But it’s okay to cry. Jim and I are handling this well, but that doesn’t mean we (me) don’t get emotional at times. It’s a part of the process. He is my rock and I am his. Thank you all for support through all of this because you are making it easier on Jim and I. Last, but not least, my next chemo is scheduled for July 10th and if you’d like you can join me in wearing some pink that day! 🙂

Thank you all again. From the bottom of my heart.

xoxoxoxo,

Katie

6/17/14

TeamKLB

We had our chemo class today and learned all about side effects, etc. My first chemo is scheduled for tomorrow from 10:30-1:30. Feel free to send out cancer killing vibes during those hours :). Chemo will be every three weeks. I expect to feel okay for the first few days after chemo and then blech on days 4-5 afterwards. The second full week I’m also not supposed to be feeling well because my blood counts will be down. Week three I should feel decent again and then it starts all over. My hair should fall out around day 21. I have plans to shave it and get a wig/scarf. Thank you all for your offers of support thus far. It makes this journey easier. I’ll keep you updated here as I know more.

xoxo <3,

Katie