Monday, April 11, 2011

Heartbreaking Power

Chorus from song Heartbreaking Power by Richie Howell

Heartbreaking Power, powers through, takes all my energy to fend off what you do to me.

Is this coincidental?

This week I’ve been inspired by another blogger that I “met” online, by coincidence. (I’ve never met someone online before.)  On Tuesday after I put up my last post, I was looking at my blog stats, to see if they were back up and running, because they had been not counting for a while. Parts of the stats were working and parts not, but one of the stats shows where the searches have come from.  One of the searches to my blog came from an online Magazine of sorts called .  It sounded intersting, so I went to that site, and the topic was breast cancer.  Under the section, Blogs and Advice there was a link to my blog with a short excerpt from it regarding the nerve pain I’d been having since the mastectomy.  This was pretty exciting to me!  Below the link to my blog was a link to another blog called Some Girls Prefercarnations, 
(I am not suggesting you defect!) also with a quote about nerve pain after mastectomy.  I went to that site and did quite a bit of reading.   I became a follower and put up a comment to her latest post.  I was very excited when Heather, the author, replied to my post with a post on my blog.  Anyway, I enjoyed reading her blog. It was very informative, and applicable to my situation. Heather who is a scientist by trade, is a bit more on the technical side than me.  That, along with the fact that she has had 33,000 more views to her blog, gave me some food for thought. Hmm. Maybe folks don’t like all the fluff.   Possibly, the mental/emotional crap between the tests and appointments is not informative or helpful to others?  Nah.  While Heather has a different form of breast cancer (Hers is inflammatory …not sure the stage but I’m guessing Stage III, and mine is ductal Stage IIIA) we’ve had a similar course of treatment.  She had Chemo first (Neo-Adjuvently) and her Left Mastectomy with Lymph node dissection was Monday March 7th. Mine was Monday March 21st.  She’s recently begun the Triple Herceptin, as well.  I began mine this past Tuesday.  It is pretty interesting having something to read by someone who is on a very similar program, only weeks ahead.   It has been nice to hear that I am not experiencing pains that are very unusual.  I am bummed, however, that she got her drains out in 15 days, and mine took 21 and really could have stayed in longer.   Mine had not been taken out at week 2 because the doctor wanted the drainage to measure less than 20 cc in 24 hours. 

On a side note, this is the outfit i had on when my friends at "the other" coffee shop asked me if i was headed out to the Texas Relays.  I'm pretty sure they were asking me, like i was going to race.  It made more sense though when one of the girls said she thought it was "like potato sack races, or something".

The surgeon went ahead and took out the drain today, despite the fact that the drainage was still ranging from 45 to 50. Yea!? Catch 22.  I may have to return in a week to have any build up removed with a needle.  I am unfortunately beginning to think it is my fault that the drainage did not decrease like it was supposed to.  I figure I’m likely overdoing it with exercise, and in general.  The exercise addict in me does not want to admit that though.  I did wait 5 whole days after surgery before even walking. But, it’s true that by day 7, I walked 60 minutes on the trail, and have been walking an average of 70 minutes 5 days a week, since. (Hey, the surgeon said I could walk or ride a stationary bike!)    I do try to hold my arm still.   
 I’m also trying not to lift my kids or anything heavy, as instructed, not stretch my arm, and I am trying to mostly rest the rest of the day, as able.    I also think it is possible, due to the plateau in the output, that it could have been the drain itself causing some irritation, especially considering the fact that I have difficulty being still.  Now that the drain is out, I plan to lie as low as possible for the next 2 days.  I do get to take a shower tomorrow which should be great!  And, the doctor said I could begin to stretch my arm in about 1-2 weeks in order to regain the full range of motion.  I am currently able to lift it only to about 90 degrees.  

Here's a You Tube link to the song performed by Downtube Shifter(great picture quality, not great audio, except keyboard :)) if you'd like an idea of the tune.  I suggest now clicking link then  back to the blog to read while listening.
Prior to this morning, my spirits have been heavy much of the time this week. I’ve even had moments where I felt like my heart was actually breaking.   There have, of course, been ups and downs (as seems to be my Modus Operandi). 

 Due to the fact that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I am about ½ way through this……here we go again….stick with experience….., I’ve even begun to question if at any point I will actually truly give in to the method.  Give in enough that I will no longer feel the heartbreak? Not the physical heartbreak caused by the Herceptin, which is technically killing my heart and decreasing its potential for output (or ejection fraction), i'm talking about the heartbreak of giving in to the method, allowing patience, and more recently of severely missing my coping mechanisms which are embedded in exercise.  Running in particular.  Every morning I step outside and my first thought is still the current temperature and how it would feel to run today.  As I drive or walk around town, or on the trail, I still have vivid memories of runs I’ve had in the past.  For the first seven months, all of these thoughts gave me hope and were reminders of reasons to keep up the battle. Now, these thoughts are beginning to elicit these feelings of heartbreak.
This week while attempting to power through the heartbreak, I’ve been trying to remember that it is this awful method that is saving my life. .

 Remember earlier posts such as MRI results – No Cancer.  Pathology results - Clean.  These are wonderful things! I am truly grateful.  I have to admit, however, that these facts, along with comments from male friends of mine that believed it was now no longer necessary to return for more cancer treatment, have made the next 7 months (the 6.5 weeks of radiation, the 9 more months of  chemo and another hard core surgery) seem a bit more difficult to accept.   Overkill is one thought that comes to mind.  These facts have also, however, given me back a bit of control, as I noted when I went to see the oncologist and receive my first dose of triple Herceptin.  As I was sitting in the waiting room for infusion, a nurse came up to me, sat down and said…..”There’s been a small hitch in your treatment today…..Your MUGA or Echo (test for cardiac function) is overdue.  You must have one done every 3 months, and it has been 3.5 months since yours was done.  We can do the chemo today, but the doctor has to sign off on it”.  With that, I pulled out my new “I DO NOT HAVE CANCER CARD” that i didn't really even realize that I had until that moment, and said….Whatever you need to do, in order to not allow this wait fest to go on like it did the last 2 times I was here, is what you need to do.  If you need to go into the doctor and bust the door down right now to get him to sign off, then that is what you need to do.  I will not wait here for much longer.  I will leave.  ….And you tell him “I don’t have cancer anymore”. The nurse went away, and she came back in a few minutes and said “that worked”... 
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m signed up. I’ve paid the fees.  I’ve done the base miles. I intend to complete this event.  But, it did give me a strange kick to say it out loud.  Risky, but liberating.  


  1. Hi Emily! Sorry I have been quiet for awhile...could have been a blessing...but I have been a little out of commission myself due to a little surgery. But, that doesn't mean that I haven't had you in my thoughts and prayers all along.

    Amazing how a little stroke of power can serve as your endorphins for the day!! Go Emily...take back your power if even one little victory at a time! Think of spaghetti...not to eat, but when cooking....One strand is so easy to break, but when you put together a whole handful, just try to break it all for the pot! Crazy, huh. Guess anesthesia took my mind as well as the pain! Ha! Love the pics of you and your family. Your children are beautiful!!!
    Love, Aunt Connie

  2. hey emily - great running shorts (i have the same ones)! i'll be thinking of you this wkend while in beantown for the race. we'll meet up when i get back. :-)


  3. Nice running shorts...not so sure about the purse.

  4. Hey Powerhouse- Monique sent me the link to this and just read it all in one sitting. As I sit here feeling all introspective, I am at a loss for words. Not sure there are any right words, but we all want to choose them. Emily, thanks for sharing all this. I miss running with you and all the wonderful spunk that goes along with being in your running group. I miss that so much, but got to see that Spunk I miss when I read this Blog just now. Keep it up, girl. I see that you are logging a bunch of miles in a different way, way LARGER than any ole silly marathon. It was great seeing you CHEERING us all on at 3M. I see mucho things have happened since I saw you on that day. Emily, I am tracking along with you as best I know how. I am ringing my COW BELL LOUDLY and FURIOUSLY as your tread along this course. Go Emily, Go!


  5. Posted for John S.
    Thanks for adding me to your blog. So much of it is familiar, but it is enlightening for me to read about the thought processes, the ups and downs, the emotions, all of it. I never got that with my mom. I am really impressed that you can put all that into words. Your openness is something I wish more people had. If they did, it would be so much easier to connect with others. Your blog is a really great teaching tool.

    I hope you are doing well. I think about you often. Whenever you are ready to run again, I'm gonna tag along.



  6. Hey Laura!
    So sorry I didn't send it to you before! I will now add you to the update email I send out. Thank you for your comment! I love getting comments/replies! I will now have the sounds of cowbells ringing in my ears!

    Love to you too!

  7. A shower! Enjoy! It'll be the greatest shower you've ever had. Little things, but they all add up.

  8. I heard Linette yelling in the other room the other day...worried I ran in there, "what's wrong?!" She was yelling "I beat Emily on WWF!"
    Enjoy reading your blog, let me know if you need anything (or Linette if you need food :) in the meantime I will be trying to beat u on WWF!

  9. Posted for Eve
    Hi Emily, Of course i respond. Man, with what you are dealing with it is the least I can do.
    I was a little confused with what you wrote and how you referred to The Method. It shoulds like you are doing some really hard psychological battling right now and i can only imagine.. You have come so far so well and look at your skinny ass! (Us girls thats all we care about). Hang in there Chica! Thinking of you and your Bravery! Yes! if you ever have time and we don't have band practice, I'd love to get together. Love, Eve

  10. The Method...Is the Oncologist's Plan...Everything that it includes such as the chemo, surgery, radiation and all the horrible side effects. Sometimes i refer to it as Methodology, in my references to my Control Issues vs. Methodology. Thanks for the Skinny Comment! You know me so well!

  11. Doc's need to be told. Good for you. This is your life not theirs. I have a few control issues as well. I like mine. Uncle