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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hyperplasia: What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger

Sometimes when we speak, we have no idea just how true our words will become. In January, I chose "Renew" as my word for the year. I didn't realize where that journey was going to take me. In mid March, I received a biopsy report that read - precancerous cells with treatment needed. I would soon start an intense treatment that would change my life for over 4 months. That's a third of a year!

I started studying my treatment plan and when I read the words "if you lose your eyesight for more than 10 minutes, seek immediate medical attention," I was scared to death and asked my doctor if there was a drug that didn't have such scarey side effects that I could take! She said no, the side effects are all about the same for this treatment. I asked if I could take half a dose! She said no, a half dose would NOT be effective. That was a very disturbing point for me with no good choices. Not doing the treatment could put my future health and life in jeopardy! Taking it could almost kill me or leave me blind! Not a great position to find yourself in.

I started the treatment and held my breath for a few days. First the major headaches started that can only be described as being jabbed in the head with a sharp object. Before long, I felt like a 57 year-old pregnant woman with raging hormones! Complete with nausea, breast swelling, pain, tremendous mood swings and severe cramping. I didn't go through that when I was pregnant 38 years ago! The side effects kept coming, bloating, bulging eyes, double vision, blurred vision, pain behind my eyes, dizziness even while sitting down, and weight gain. It would have been nice if I could have had the weight loss side effect. Does anyone ever get that "weight loss" side effect if there is a choice of weight loss or gain weight? That has never happened for me!

The worst part was the depressive state the drugs kept me in, day after day. It was as if another person had entered my body and I didn't know who that person was. I didn't believe it was possible that the person I had been would ever come back. I maintained a continual low state that often plunged lower than I have ever known. Many days to the point of not wanting to live any more. The life I was living was just too full of pain. Many days I counted pills to see if I had enough to stop the pain. I am happy that my faith in God held me. That is the only thing that kept me alive. My dear hubby was my knight in shining armor and showered me with love and care. He worked a full day, did the grocery shopping, fixed dinner, cleaned the house, and on and on. I so appreciate the support of dear friends that were there for me at any time. They called me, sent me encouraging emails and texts and stuck with me through the really hard days. My dear friend Barb was a huge support! She is such a great example of the kind of person I want to be. She gave me so much support less than six months after she completed her treatment for breast cancer. She is full of courage and encouragement! I am blessed to have her in my life. Sue, you are an angel! Thank you for your strong support and prayers!

I couldn't wait to finish the treatment and start enjoying summer! The closer I got to the finish, the less patient I became. At that point, the dr told me I needed to continue the treatment for another 4 weeks. That was really hard to hear. After another two weeks, I called the pharmacist and asked her what would happen if I took half a dose for the last two weeks. She said I was on a very HIGH dosage and a half dose was what most people took, but don't take that from her, talk to my dr about it first. I told her, I couldn't take all the side effects another minute and it was either that or I was going to quit altogether. She asked what side effects I was having and when I told her, she said that is terrible, she had never heard of the drug affecting anyone that much. I sent an email to my dr and told her what I was going to do and she said, no problem. Wow, I wish she would have told me that 4 months before! 

Soon after completing the treatment, I had another biopsy and I had to wait seven days to hear back. Finally, my dr called me and told me the precancerous condition was gone but the treatment had created a new problem! She said I would need to start a six month treatment for the new problem. She said because I had such a bad experience with the first treatment, she would order the most expensive drug that some women have found had less side effects. I was stunned and speechless! I don't have any idea what was said after that. I don't remember hanging up. 

Well, I stewed on that for a while as I stalled the treatment. One day I sent her an email and asked her, at the end of the six month treatment, what new issues will I be left with? She didn't know. That is when that was a deal breaker. During the treatment, I had been sent to see a specialist on an emergency appointment. He wanted to know about my treatment and had asked me what the plan was when I was finished with the treatment. I told him I didn't know. He spent about 15 minutes, going down the list of hormone treatments, giving me the pros and cons of each one. When he was finished listing all the possibilities, he said, "If you were my wife, I would tell you, don't take anything. Every treatment out there comes with risks and we don't usually find out until it is too late. Don't take anything!" When I remembered that conversation, I decided that my body had been through a lot! I needed to give it a rest from treatments and let it have a chance to heal itself! Besides, I still had some of the side effects - double vision and others! I talked to my gyn and she supported me on my decision and said that we would do another biopsy in 4 months. So, this saga will continue one way or another in a couple months.

That all ended the end of July so that is when summer began for me! I have been very busy enjoying every minute of our beautiful weather. The grandsons came down for a week, we took several vacations, walks in the park, quick trips to the beach, the works! It is so nice because the weatherman just said we can expect temps in the 80's through the beginning of October. There is no rain in sight! Every day is like a bonus summer day, here in the Northwest!

I will post random pictures of our summer travels in the near future. I am still trying to figure out the new format that changed while my blog was inactive. Who knows, I might even post a recipe or two, not that I have done much cooking for the past six months!

I just realized this is my 400th post!

Have a great weekend! 

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