Sunday, December 30, 2012

Keeping Track: My Crazy 2012

I was going to make this post about all the things I learned this year, major milestones and a list of what I am grateful for. But writing that out is somewhat of a daunting task for me because it requires actual thinking…and lately I have been so tired I haven't much energy to form meaningful sentences. Plus it would also entail some heavy duty reflection... and let's be honest, we all know 2012 was mostly one big nightmare.

Yep I learned A LOT in 2012 but I just don't have it in me to hash the year out in the form of 'take homes' and lessons. Read: 2012 pretty much kicked my ass.

Even though it was filled with many hurdles there were good things that happened too…
March 5th Mike and I secured 10 frozen babes for a possible future family. Shortly after that we got engaged in Tofino. In late April we put an offer on a house and moved into our first home by the end of June. And in October we made a celebratory "treatment is done" trip down to the happiest place on earth.

No it wasn't all bad. But the year 2012 sure did turn my world upside down and back a few times over. I can pretty much say that I will not miss this time in my life, although I know I will never forget it either.

I am ready for 2012 to be complete and I want to be able to look forward. However, saying that I am moving on is also an easy statement that I just can't confidently make right now. I haven't quite gotten there yet. I am still processing what happened to me and adjusting to this 'new normal' life that everyone warned me about.

So with 2013 a little more than 24 hours away I am both glad and nervous for this year to end. Glad because I can now say that I survived the scariest most traumatic year of my life. And nervous because I have no clue what 2013 will have in store for me. I can only hope that it will be dull and uneventful in the health/medical department!

So being the crazy list person that I am, I kept tabs and compiled a bunch of personal stats for the most life-altering year of my life. This was done gradually and purely for my own satisfaction and sense of closure to what kind of nonsense I had to endure. (Although some of it was because of insurance and tax purposes)

Do not feel you need to continue reading beyond this point… It really is just for me to look back on and be able to say "Holy shit, I fricking did all that."

Without further ado, here are some of my highlights of 2012:

• 2.8" cancerous tumour (invasive ductal carcinoma)
• Stage 2b, Grade 3, Estrogen+ 8/8, Progesterone 6/8, HER2- (minor DCIS with grade 2 nuclei)
• .4mm of cancer in ONE of 12 lymph nodes after an axillary dissection

• ONE scary claustrophobic MRI
• ONE mastectomy
• ONE axillary dissection
• ONE uncomfortable implant with Alloderm
• ONE post-surgery drain (luckily removed 7 days after surgery)
• ONE breast reduction
• ONE colonoscopy
• ONE clean CT brain scan
• ONE echo-cardiogram
• ONE in-person support group attended
• ONE hereditary breast cancer gene testing (results to come in 2013)
• ONE engagement :)
• ONE home purchase :)
• TWO biopsies confirming cancer
• TWO clean bone scans
• TWO clean pelvic and abdominal ultra sounds
• TWO mammograms (one clean! one not. duh.)
• TWO CT chest scans
• TWO dentist visits
• TWO fluid filled cysts (right side as result of surgery)
• TWO mini holidays :)
• THREE breast ultra sounds
• THREE tattoos for radiation accuracy
• THREE breast cancer studies I am participating in
• THREE hair cuts
• THREE wigs
• FOUR therapy/counselling sessions
• FOUR different roommates at the Cancer Lodge
• FOUR Emotional Freedom Technique classes attended at Inspire Health
• FIVE chest x-rays
• FIVE online Cancer Chat Canada support group sessions (5 more left in 2013)
• SIX weeks living at the Jean C Barber Cancer Lodge in Van
• SIX months sans my monthly visitor (It has since returned!)
• SEVEN different home care nurses
• EIGHT Ativan to calm me down
• NINE different physicians/surgeons
• TEN sessions of physio
• TEN different head coverings to cover up the baldness

• ONE hCG trigger tummy shot to promote maturation of eggs (In Vitro fun!)
• SIX Cetrotide Antagonist tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• EIGHT internal ultra sounds
• NINE Gonal F tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• NINE Menopur tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• 18 eggs harvested
• 14 eggs successfully fertilized
• 10 embryos successfully preserved :)
• 30 Letrozole pills (anti-estrogen following egg harvest)

• TWO visits to the emergency room
• TWO bottles of Nystatin to treat thrush
• FOUR rounds of Adriamycin/Doxorubicin a.k.a The Red Devil
• FOUR rounds of Cyclophosphamide
• FOUR rounds of Paclitaxel/Taxol
• FOUR "Harpoon" Zoladex/Goserelin tummy injections
• EIGHT rounds of chemo in total
• EIGHT 8mg of Ondansetron pills (anti-nausea pre-chemo medication)
• EIGHT 12 mg. Dexamethasone pills (pre-chemo anti-nausea steroid that made me nutters)
• EIGHT 120 mg. Emend pills (anti-nausea pre-chemo medication)
• TEN 80 mg. Emend pills (post-chemo anti-nausea)
• 30 - 10 mg. Stematil pills (post-chemo anti-nausea)
• 32 - 4 mg. Dexamethasone pills (post-chemo anti-nausea steroid that made me nutters)
• 60 - 50 mg. Gravol pills
• 64 Neupogen tummy injections

• 28 radiation treatments
• 50 gm bottle of Flamazine for skin burning
• 50 gm bottle of Hydrocortisone Acetate for skin burning
• 5.9 right / 88.9 / 94.6 coordinates for rads targets (these numbers: forever engraved in my mind!)
• 4080 cGy units (rads dose to the anterior supra-clavicle area)
• 5040 cGy units (rads dose to the chest)

• 1.3" fibroadenoma (benign tumour next to the bad one)
• 12 Zantac pills
• 12 lymph nodes removed
• 14-16 Intravenous lines (stupid chemo has rendered my right hand veins useless)
• 15 weeks of employment insurance
• 25 pounds lost
• 26-30 blood/lab tests
• 28 Cloxacillin pills (anti-biotic for infection in August on the "good" boob)
• 60 Tamoxifen pills taken (Only 1,765 to go…)
• 64+ ferry trips
• 81 Get Well cards and well wishing snail mails :)
• 4,390 km driven for medical related travel
• $4,800 in Zoladex injections (thank you benefit plan!)
• $12,800 in Neupogen injections (thank you PharmaCare!)

• 32 blog posts
• Too many oncologist, doctor and surgeon appointments to bother tallying up
• ONE insane crazy wild roller coaster ride of a year

So long 2012! I am done with you.


  1. WOW Ashley, I loved this post. The best part for me was your list of stats. I would never have thought to do that, and I'm so glad to see that you did, because it really solidifies some of the things that we as cancer patients have to go through. When you put it down to numbers it adds a great deal of weight to the equation (pun intended). I would love to share your post on my blog. Would you be open to that?
    I am so glad for you that most of this nightmare is over. I wish with all my heart the best for you not only in 2013, but the rest of your long, long life. When you are eighty, be sure to look up my kids and give them a big old high five!!!!
    Love and hugs,

    1. Hey Michelle... thank you. Feel free to share it on your blog. That's totally cool.

      Ya I'm a little weird that way with the lists. I listing and I like numbers too. It was just a way for me to sum up the year. A bit of closure. It amazes me sometimes that it started almost a year ago and I have come full circle now.

      Thank you so much for your well wishes Michelle. It means so much to me... Sending you peace and healing strength for 2013. Always. xo

  2. That looks and sounds quite daunting for me being at the very early stages of my own breast cancer journey. 2012 saw me diagnosed with two surgeries now behind me. 2013 on the other hand sees me start chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then hormone therapy. To say I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed at the moment is a complete understatement.

    Hats of you to you for getting through it all Ashley. You're one hell or a warrior in my opinion.

    Lia xxx

    1. Hi Lia, thanks for your message. It is scary, I will not lie. But we really are stronger than we think we are. You will pull through! It may be difficult and terrifying to do it, but we DO get through! :)

      Sending you a big hug from Western Canada! xo

  3. Sweet jesus on a cracker! That is quite the list! It really sounds like too much for one person to handle, but you did it. You made it. You kept it together (even though I'm sure it didn't always feel like that) and pulled through. You are a very brave and strong lady and I'm so happy we met this year! Reading your blog and emails have helped me so much. Even the photos of your bald head, made it easier when I had to shave mine. I want you to know that! To a dull and uneventful year for you in the health/medical department! Cheers my sweet friend!
    p.s. When I was 18 I started a blog I kept for six years and used to go list crazy all the time as well! They are fun!

    1. lol - sweet jesus on a cracker! That's a new one! haha

      I am so glad to hear that it has helped to talk Ciel. Really happy to have met you. Once day I imagine us meeting in 'real life' :)

      I am wishing you a quick, nausea-free, painless, peaceful 2013! Quick in that I hope it goes fast for you... but I hope you can still find some happy times in between all the tough stuff.

      Big Hugs!

  4. Ashley.... I feel like we should do a rendition of the twelve days of Christmas with those numbers you posted up... Yes, 2012 has seen TOO much for so many. I'm with you..... It's time to move past this and keep pushing for a better way for the future.

    Happy New Year!!!!


    1. lol totally!

      *** Three lovely wigs. Two clean bone scans! And a fake boob with Allooo derrrmmm. ***

      There! :)

      Wishing you a happy and healthy 2013 Anne Marie! xox

  5. dear ashley,

    wow - that's some shit, girl! but look at you now - you did it, and have the very distinct pleasure of throwing out the horrid year that was, and welcoming the possibilites that may bring happy surprises your way in 2013. dream BIG, wish BIGGER! you deserve it! i will be believing for all good things for you in the new year.

    love, xoxo,

    karen, TC

    1. Hi Karen, TC!

      Forgive me for not knowing exactly WHICH Karen this is... I have quite a few of you in my life :)

      Thanks so much for your message... it has been a wild crazy year. Appreciate your kind wishes. May 2013 be grand for you as well.


  6. Those stats are staggering, Ash. The fact they're all yours is staggering times 10. Unreal, yet all too real for you. As a family member, I have felt so helpless. All the while, I continue to be so impressed and inspired by your resolve. As we agreed, 2013 is your year. May it be vastly different from 2012, and an entirely new level of success. Love, Uncle Ben

    1. Thanks Ben. Really means a lot to me. 2013 shall be awesome. Hugs from the Coast :)