Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hi, I am a breast cancer patient and I have PTSD? It’s a battle with in.

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Hi, I am a breast cancer patient and I have PTSD? It’s a battle with in.

Its been a while since I’ve posted that’s because I have been dealing with a issue that is not talked about, mental illness and cancer. I know all of us have,or has depression, or anxiety related to our dx and treatments. I always worry about ” what if” the cancer is back and i wont find it.But PTSD also??? Yes, I have it all and I am not afraid to say it. To put it in my own terms I have the “trifecta of crazy” 🙂 lol.

I have had the depression for a while and truly thought it was the pain meds I was on messing with my chemical in my brain. But I knew it was something else when we I would wake shaking, heart racing, sweating and crying. That’s more then depression…its PTSD! I find myself jumping at every noise, everything is like nails on a chalk board to me. And the now I’m having the wonderful dreams about things as I see as trauma. The best part of all this are the panic attacks. Once my heart is racing ( I call it my omg feeling) my mind is like a merry go round on fast, and there is no stopping it. I become so irrational about what ever it is. At the time I can’t see it, its only the day after I realize how silly it was, at the time the fear is VERY real.

I know there is social stigma STILL attached to mental illness. Why is that?? I want to raise awareness to these issues related to cancer. It’s so scary and shocking for me to be diagnosed with all this. I mean it’s not the feeling you had being told you have cancer but its a close second. But the sad thing is I knew it was coming. I should have reached out for help back in October! But truth be told, I was afraid to because everyone always said I was strong. I though I was weak by seeking help. I’m starting to realize it takes a stronger person to ask for, and get the help they need then trying to fight this all consuming issue on my own.

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MRI update.. I swear I’m not a nut lol! Ok maybe just a little crazy

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MRI update.. I swear I’m not a nut lol! Ok maybe just a little crazy

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Just wanted everyone to know my MRI has not changed. The mass is stable for now and no biopsy!!!
Sorry I have not been writing as much, I had a fall on my stair case pretty bad and of course I caught my right arm( the troubled one) on the way down. I didn’t damage the surgical sight but pulled all the muscles an possible tore scare tissue because I it constantly burning. So I’m restricted on movement till I feel better. My back is going out, my shoulder hurts and I have a terrible stiff neck. Frustrating having a fall back in my progression.

Also, sadly I have a diagnosis of depression, panic disorder and PTSD. I am fighting the physical pain along with my mind. I am in treatment, it’s so hard especially when people say it’s ok, because it’s not. I feel like I’m expected to some how snap out of this tomorrow, and I know it does not work that way at all. This is the side of cancer no really talks about, the mental pain that hits you out of no where, I have panic attacks daily some times more, if I could sleep all day I would, that is if I fall asleep at all>, I don’t like leaving the house, my startle reflex is a15 on a scale of 1-10, everything is like nails on a chalk board ie son dribbling ball in house, me just generally snapping at everyone on a dime., of and crying at EVERYTHING is a treat, not to mention I wake up trembling and sweating daily ( so attractive) THIS is not me! I hate it because it feels never ending even though rationally I know it is. When I am in a panic attack I am so illrational it’s unreal, once I calm down I can see it.

I’m doing what I can to feel better, eating right, meditating, I going a meditation n reiki group ( gives me something to look forward to ). I have my first bc support group Thursday night. Plus I see dr. H weekly and speak to a mental health coach weekly. Right now for me at least it’s hard to keep things in perspective. My denial for my long term disability still has not been turned over so still waiting on that. The ” what if” that cancer is back will always be in the back go my mine. The worry that my ” chemobrain” after two years won’t get better, I hate repeating myself and asking the same thing over and over again. My family member don’t seem to think chemobrain is a dx and that I just like to hear myself talk, it’s real, it’s frustrating, and it’s bad! I feel like I’m loosing my mind at times with it.

We’ll thanks for the rant and my upbeat lmao update. Hopefully with a good amount of treatment and tweeting of meds this too shale pass. I know there will be some lesson to learn from this, I just can see it through all the fog. e

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How many pokes does it take to get an IV in me? Let’s see!!!

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How many pokes does it take to get an IV in me? Let’s see!!!

Ah yesssss, my favorite activity! Playing darts with my arm! Being that I only am able to use the one, it’s a hit or miss with me. I had my sentinel node removed on my right are two years ago. And I also developed lymphadema from my mastectomy which sucked so I shall avoid that arm at ALL costs.Unfortunately this time it was a total miss!

It’s like one of those bad jokes, how many nurses does it take to start an IV…..So what did it take?? Two people actually! Along with 3 hot blankets, two different tourniquets and four 22 gage needles, that’s how many lmao! I have small veins that roll and blow out. It’s beyond sad when I know where my veins are and I can tell them when it’s in the vein and when it’s gonna blow. I felt so bad for the MRI tech and the nurse they called in. They are apologizing to me as I’m apologizing to them. It could have been a comedy routine! They couldn’t believe I was joking the entire time( I had my T-shirt on that said,”Heck yes they are fake. My real ones tried to kill me.”) anyone who had that on has to have a sense of humor! I told them really this is NOTHING compared to the past three years! Plus I have a 18 gage needle eleven times in my breasts over the past four months. Really what am I gonna do be pissed, yell at them? Nope they are my own crappy veins, till death do us part or unless I get a port again lol. They where going to stop at three, I cheered them on to do number four. Low and behold after an hour for slapping my arm, even sweetly talking to my veins one stood out and took one for the team!!!!

The tech is so great at the hospital he said he felt bad because the last two times he got me on the first time( he said he didn’t want loose his reputation with me lol). I told him I will make sure I schedule the next six month MRI with him but we will do it earlier incase my veins decide to up and play hide n go seek again. Next time we will be sure a radiologist will be there and they can do it under ultrasound. I agreed it would be less interesting that way but for the sake of those who does my IV much better. There’s less sweating that way!

I have included a lovely pic of just ONE of the pretty veins that blew, it will be a lovely shade of green in a few days.( just in time for St. Party’s day!) Hopefully by then I will get the ok that the mass on my liver is not growing, fingers crossed. The one thing about cancer you learn patience. Also the pics of the puppy, well let’s just say that’s how I felt…it was like wrestling with a porkiepine! But I won lol./>
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Three weeks post op implant surgery, I got an A+!

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Three weeks post op implant surgery, I got an A+!

Last week I got an A+ from my PS Dr. Assad on healing. He really did a beautiful job. He was very happy with how the radiated side is doing. So I had my stitches removed, I didn’t feel a thing! I have purchased silicone strips to cover the incisions to help them heal. I even put them on where the drains where, for some reason they are very red but not infected. So next visit four weeks. I do have to keep a compression bra on and I have a lump we believe is scar tissue that we have been watching since I had the expanders in. I got these great bras called Barely There at my fav store Kohl’s. The form to your body and no wires. They kinda fit like sports bra so very comfy to sleep in and great if you have a low cut blouse and need to cover the cleavage.

Now the not so fun news. Tomorrow I have a MRI of my liver. Yes, it’s that time to check out the supposed hemangioma we discovered in May when I had all my scans for the mastectomy. I hope my favorite tech is there! He gets my IV on the first shot every time! Last time I was able to meditate so well I fell asleep in it! I do hate having them done but thats a part of my life now. I just know eventually I will start glowing!! Now the other thing I’m still in a lot of pain and if I could sleep all day I would. Anyone else have this? I know I have been beat up physically pretty bad (and mentally)for the past three years, I just don’t know if my body has just finally had it and needs to regenerate. I finally decided to talk to a professional because “perky” me is showing major signs of depression. I almost felt bad asking for help because I’m always told how strong I’ve been, but I guess it also takes a strong person to ask for help too!

So now that we are somewhat physically on track it’s time to get my mind on track. I just keep questioning why the first time around I didn’t feel like this. Why this time? It’s weird how trauma hits you at different times in your life.

Today my heart is heavy for it’s the anniversary of the passing of my Mom

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Today my heart is heavy for it’s the anniversary of the passing of my Mom

Today, March 11 marks 15 years since my mom Virginia Cerwin passed away from cirrhosis of the liver. What a horrible thing to see someone die from, never mind the fact that it’s your first experience with death. At the time I was only 24, a only child and I had barely lived life. To lose your mom at that age really changes the person that you are. For a while I didn’t always get along with my mom mostly due to her drinking and me being a teenager. Growing up I thought it was normal till I was 14 and a friend of mine broke it down to me what it was. Even worse my father was a “functioning” alcoholic. So I needless to say I had to grow up pretty fast. There where a lot of times things would always be said that felt like knifes being thrown at your heart. Now that I’m older I know it was not her it was the disease talking.

Unfortunately due to all the damage to the liver, my mom had a lot of toxins going to her brain so she had hallucinated a lot. And one of our last conversations two days before she passed away she had asked me if I was pregnant, I just took it to be one of the hallucinations. In the previous months before she died I had had two miscarriages. One at 11 weeks and one at 6 weeks. The last thing on my mind was having a baby, I only wanted to do was to save my mom. All of this took quite a toll on me. My husband at the time was in the Navy and we lived in San Diego, so going back and forth to NJ was exhausting. The saddest thing I had ever seen was my father collapse on the floor when they told him it was terminal. As a child you see your father as your super hero, brought to his knees in pain broke my heart to see him like that. I remember in her last moments that heavy breathing and the glassy stare. ( I would like to think she was seeing a better place) The nurses knew it was the end, they shut the alarms off on the monitors so they would not go off. I remember leaning in and telling my mom it was ok to go… those are words a 24 year old should never have to say to a parent. The next days I barely remember. Planning the funeral, getting people at the airport and most importantly taking care of my grandmother, god bless her she was 90 then. That poor woman buried two husbands and two daughters, I hope I end up with just a half of the strength she had. I know if she was here she would tell me it’s because she is Scottish and we are strong people. Little did I know that strength would come out in me with my fight with BC.

Now back to the point of my mom asking if I was pregnant. Ends up three weeks after the burial I waspregnant with my son Branden. Every time I talk about this I get chills. My father came and stayed for a month with me in San Diego right after the funeral and he was the first person I told! My mom wanted nothing more then for me to have a baby, I truly believe she had something to do with Branden! Finds out I have a genetic disorder that causes me to miscarry so I believe my mom had a hand in the miracle that is my son!

Mom, it’s been too long since I have seen you and heard you. I hope you are proud of the strong woman I have become, yes the Scottish part has something to do with it lol. I hope you are free from your demons that plagued you here on earth and you are happy where ever you are. You left us too soon at the age of 58. But I know everything happens for a reason, that reason was Branden. I love and miss you- Heather

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1 week post op from reconstruction. The girls are born!!

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1 week post op from reconstruction. The girls are born!!

They have finally arrived in all their glory! My twin girls, they weighed in at a hefty 900cc each,about 6 inches long born at 8:30 am. My husband and I are so proud. Sadly the proud father was not there to see the birth, in this case we will defiantly make an exception. The only thing is they have been keeping me up at night. I know that should be expected with newborns. Oh, we still don’t have any names, so we are up for suggestions!

But seriously the surgery went well. I had some breathing issues in post op so I had a nice cough that made the implants feel like knifes in me. This surgery was easier then the last, however I am in pain (especially my right side) and very,very sleepy. Truthfully I’m not feeling up to doing much. I am back to sleeping on my back, which I totally hate. And I have a new appreciation for prunes as a whole fruit. I finished off a bag in two days! That damn anesthesia gets me every time but this time I was prepared. Armed with Colace and bags of prunes lol.(note to self add bag of prunes to mastectomy must haves)

My PS did have to break up the capsule that formed from the scar tissue on my radiated breast. He said he had to open it by cutting it long ways, then making little cuts so it will hopefully open up and expand to match the left side. I will need another surgery for fat transfer for my cleavage. I can only describe the area there as being hollow looking. I know they will not be perfect, I just want my new normal. I wish that and the nipple could be done right away so I can mentally get through this. But I know I need to be patient, Rome was not built in a day and apparently either will my boobs!!