Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Last Saturday we spent the day on the beach at the Jersey Shore (no, I did not see Snookie) enjoying our last day of our week long vacation (yes, we were on yet another vacation). It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the end to a fabulous week. We rented a house with our friends who have children similar ages to ours and it ended up working out quite well.

So we checked out of the house and headed to the beach for our last day of play in the sand. It wasn’t until about noon that I realized that it was the third anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. I was actually taken by surprise. I usually hate August so much that I become immobile, unable to make a plan and then regretting that I don’t have anything to occupy the children. This year, it just worked out that we ended up on a family vacation at the beach.
When I realized what day it was I turned to my friend Kim and said, “Today is the anniversary of my diagnosis.” She calmly replied, “The Radnor Hotel pool three years ago.” She remembered when I told her the day after I heard the news. On that day, I didn’t want to tell many people about my health but I was at the pool with her and the calls from doctors were coming in on my cell phone as we chatted. She was staring at me and wondering what was going on.

“It is breast cancer,” I told her.

“Oh, my God,” it is DCIS, right?

“What is DCIS? I don’t know what that is, I just know that it is invasive ductal carcinoma.”

“Are you sure it isn’t DCIS? It just has to be contained. I just know that it is DCIS.”

“No Kim, it is not DCIS and it is not contained.”

“I am so sorry,” she said and she began to cry.

I was tired of this conversation. I had no idea what DCIS was only that I was sure that I didn’t have it. Now she was crying. I couldn’t understand why she was crying if I wasn’t. It didn’t make sense. Maybe it was because I had taken a Xanax before I went to the pool so I was not feeling particularly sad or anxious at that moment. Needless to say, the crying annoyed me.

A few minutes later, she explained why she had become so emotional. Five years earlier she had been diagnosed with DCIS and was just fine after a lumpectomy and a breast reduction. She had hoped that I would have a similar situation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

So here we were, three years later, quietly sitting on the beach watching the children play once again. Only this day I was feeling quite different. I was relieved to have made it to the three year mark and thinking about the future.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Left Arm Up

I have been reading a bit about lymphedema lately and I have come to the conclusion that I am suffering from a bit of it in my left arm. I find that if I overuse my arm it starts to hurt, actually throbbing at times. It is odd, I don’t really experience swelling in my arm but I do experience swelling under my arm close to my rib cage.

I first noticed the irritation this spring. I was playing in a tennis clinic once a week and then I was asked to be on a tennis team. I was nervous at the prospect of playing matches, having never done so before, so I went out to the tennis courts to practice, practice, and practice. After playing four days in a row one week my arm began to hurt.

I thought that it was odd but didn’t pay too much attention. I tried to elevate it when I could and rest it when I wasn’t playing tennis or doing yoga. It continued to bother me and actually hurt more and more. Finally, I came up with a self diagnosis of overuse which has required a hiatus from tennis this summer. The pain subsided.

On our recent trip to Hawaii, I irritated it once again. Lifting bags and toting various suitcases caused the pain to return. I should have known better but I keep thinking that my arm is almost normal and not “damaged goods.” As my energy level has steadily increased over the past few years I mistakenly think that I can do all of the things I did before my surgery. The throbbing is a painful reminder to be gentler to my new body.

This week I have decided to try to rest my arm and myself and not overdo it. As much as I want to run, play tennis, do yoga and of course clean the house(ha,ha), I need to give my arm a rest. I will try to enjoy this time and perhaps read a book. I know for certain I will not miss cleaning the house.