Sunday, March 4, 2012

Greetings From Estrogen City

Irritable, emotional and agitated…I am a walking ball of womanly hormones.

A delightful combo of "cries very easily" and "requires peace and quiet (and a nap!)", I have been a bit like a ticking time bomb in these passed 10 days of fertility injections.

Basically, I think I have maxed out my estrogen amount and am ready to come back down to a level of sanity.

And so without further ado… I happily can say that tomorrow I am finally getting put under some sedatives and a local anesthetic for the retrieval of the eggs. And boy oh boy how many there are! I was surprised on the number that grew and how big they are. Measuring roughly 2cm in size each, these follicles have been making my belly feel so bloated I feel like I ate a whole loaf of french bread smothered in cream cheese. With marshmallows and mashed yam fries on top. And Yorkshire puddings. All in 30 seconds. Pull up the couch and lay me down to sleep like the beached sea-lion that I am. Not a pretty picture and not a very lovely feeling! ...I have cramps 75% of the time and get sudden shoots of pain from the gremlin-y little orbs in my ovaries as well as a "must pee like a race-horse" fullness that never seems to go away.

If this is what it feels like to be preggers - oh goodie - good times!

But after tomorrow's harvesting procedure the PCRM fertility clinic will be done with me (for now). And Mike and I will meet with them down the road in roughly five years to hopefully use one of the preserved embryos. How strange it is to think that we will be able to choose when we want to use them after I am done my five years of anti-cancer treatment. We can totally decide whether we want to go for twins… or if we'd fancy a Libra or a Sagittarius baby. Hehe…that is kinda bizarre!

Such an eye-opening experience it has been doing these shots and learning at the fertility clinic. I never would have thought for a second that I'd be doing in vitro baby making, especially for the reasons that I am. It's a delicate and sensitive process… one where we always had to be available to come in if they called. Appointments changed like the weather and so it has been quite an exhausting and sometimes stressful affair.

As I look back at it, I realize how fast I plummeted deep into the waves of my hormonal ocean as the injection counts increased…it is for my Mum's care and patience with me during this time that I am so very thankful! She and my Mamka have kept me sane and relatively grounded. My Mum was awesome at getting me through it all…She would get up at 6am with me every morning to take me for blood work and ultrasounds. She's now pro at mixing medications and giving injections and I can proudly say with approval that she is a good nurse.

And quel surprise! A busy week is coming up! What else is new?

Monday: Eggies are coming out.
Tuesday: I see the dentist for an appointment that I must have before chemo since you are not even supposed to floss during treatment.
Wednesday: The lovely plastic surgeon Dr. VanAwesome for another follow-up. She will be assessing whether or not my incisions are healed enough to begin chemo.
And Thursday: Dr. Sunshine, my oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency. This will be my third appointment with her where we will discuss my two chemo treatment options, determine a schedule and talk about the rest of the pathology report results.

And on that topic, part deux of the surgery pathology report came in last week. They uncovered that there were 12 lymph nodes in the axillary dissection. They were almost all clean and free of cancer except the single solitary originally suspicious node that was picked up on the MRI. It was enlarged to 1 cm but when they got in there and analyzed and tested it they discovered that the cancerous part was a teeny tiny minuscule amount. The cancer only measured .4 mm in ONE lymph node.

Point Four of a millimeter! So so so so so small.

I am relieved and glad that the worry is gone and that the entire axillary area was removed but a piece of me is missing now… because of .4 mm! It's great news…but I can't help but mourn the area in my armpit that is now gone…there is zilch as far as sensation goes in there…Im not even allowed to use a razor! Which sucks because I usually shave my underarms regularly, I just personally prefer it. And at present moment, it's as if I have a farm animal growing in my left pit. I'll need to invest in an electric razor once I can lift my arm up high enough to get it in there. That's obviously the least of my problems… but for real…I am pretty bummed to be numb in there. All because of the tiniest bit of the bad stuff! Why did it have to bother traveling up that way at all?

Seriously cancer!! You suck!!

Because I am hell-bent on showing cancer who's boss and for more ammo in addition to the traditional treatments for this healing journey, I have signed up for a year membership at a holistic integrative cancer care clinic in Vancouver. It is called Inspire Health and although I was skeptical at first, the people there rule!

At first sitting around the introductory session fire-side chat group made me feel cozy and at ease… but eventually uncomfortable…I was midway through the fertility treatment injections this week when we decided to check out the alternative clinic… so my mood swings were in full on flux mode. At first I liked being around more people who were going through what I was… but then the more I sat there it all became so real and I wasn't sure I liked being surrounded by people who reminded me of disease I had just had eradicated from my body. This notion, on top of having earlier that morning experienced another vasovagol fainting episode, began to really make me antsy and panicky. So when the room ended up packed with more and more cancer patients and support people I started getting a hot flash (a side-effect from one of the fertility drugs) and began feeling completely closed in, trapped and anxious.

Suddenly I didn't like the group setting of fellow cancer survivors at all… feeling totally claustrophobic and then hearing that we would have to introduce ourselves and share our stories after the introductory presentation made me want to flee from the room and jump in a cold tub of water. Imagining myself doing the whole "My name is Ashley and I am under-going treatment for breast cancer" made me feel sick to my stomach! I didn't want to be in the cancer group and have a cancer status and share MY cancer story and talk about it all with other cancer people!

Queue Mum to save me from screaming and curling up in the fetal position while weeping like an infant! Enter Rescue-Remedy! (If you haven't heard of this stuff and get bouts of anxiety - you must try this little life-saver of a product) My Mum thankfully had some Rescue-Remedy gum and very soon I felt chilled out and was able to relax and enjoy the Inspire Health presentation.

I really look forward to working with the physicians and workers at Inspire Health… a lot of their recommendations for wellness I am already doing, which is cool. But there are so many more things to learn about increasing wellness and preventing recurrence of cancer specifically. In a two day LIFE program followed by being assigned a holistic physician, I will gain a lot of knowledge and inspiration to prevent rogue cells from occurring in my body. That is the goal and hope! The idea behind Inspire Health is not to treat cancer like the oncologists do, but to build up health and wellness so that cancer can no longer grow or even exist. The bonus of being a member is that I will be able to attend as many yoga classes, meditations, acupuncture sessions, nutrition and cooking classes as I want.

I'm pumped!!

All of these positive things to look forward to, as well as the changes I made almost immediately after I found the stupid lump, have made me feel really good. I've never felt SICK from cancer. Some people think that if you have cancer you'll look like you have cancer - like there would be a big fat cancer tattoo on your face and it would be clearly visible for anyone to pick up on and see. I used to imagine that too... and believe me, that was one of my biggest fears when I was told I had it. Pale, frail and weak were words that I thought went along with ANY stage of cancer, but it simply is just not the case. Just because someone has a tumour growing in their body does not mean it will be evident for the world to see. I ignorantly used to think any type of cancer instantly made you look sick and that if I ever had it I would look sick too.

But I have felt and looked the exact opposite (minus the week prior to surgery of course). There are a lot of things I am doing to improve energy and feel and look the way I do and I am excited when people ask and want to learn how it is that I am thriving and not just surviving through this crazy time in my life. It makes me want to share the 'secrets' I have and inform other people who are kicking cancer to the curb or even people wanting to feel more energetic and healthy. But hold up though!! I will admit I do get pretty tired mid-afternoon, but then that is absolutely bound to happen after all that my body has been put through in the last month. Fertility drug bloating and girly emotional mucky-muck aside, I feel pretty good and healthy… and am stoked on wellness, nutrition, vitality and high on love and life!

More on that good stuff another time though…

Before my library wifi time is cut off, I want to mention that it appears that the blog update email sign-up form was not working properly. I've had several people give me crap for the widget not alerting them of a new post and have since found the glitch and hopefully have it up and running smoothly now. You may, however, have to re-submit your email address into the email field again to be added to the feed. So, if you didn't get an email from this post today...and you want to in the future...just submit your email again.

Also, I'd like to thank all you comment-submitters out there (and lurkers too) for visiting! I love the encouragement and appreciate the kind and positive notes you have left. And shy commenters: How I love your anonymous messages, don't be afraid to put your name to the words! I'd love to know who you are! :)

Until next time...

Peace out.


  1. Perhaps it's not surprising, but it's stunning to me when I think of the immense number of things I've learned - in 2012 alone - from my niece Ashley. You are an extra special young woman. Keep up the great work throughout this challenge.

  2. wow....great post Ash! Love the food explanation at the beginning lol ;) helps me imagine the feeling...pretty sure i have eaten all that in a half hour at one time in my life lol :)
    sending love