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Friday, April 18, 2014

#POSITIVITY

Avery and I recently had dinner with my good friend from college and sorority sister, Karen. She introduced me to a delicious vegetarian place and considering I have eliminated gluten, dairy, beef, pork, caffeine, and artificial sugars from my diet, I figured this place would be right up my alley. I was hoping it would be a relaxed dinner where I wasn't consumed with -adding this- or- eliminating that- from menu items, in order to meet my needs. #dontspitinmyfoodplease. It was even better than I hoped, right down to the vegan strawberry milkshake that I happily ordered in the largest size they had.

I was so excited about my frosty glass of dairy-free deliciousness that I felt it was a preferable moment to share my dietary triumph with the hashtag happy world via Facebook and Instagram. While I am guilty of posting foodie pictures on occasion, I've actually been quite resistant to the hashtag craze... until this blog.

I slid my phone out of my purse but not to be unnoticed by my darling daughter, Avery. She had decided that even though she was a Tri-Sigma Legacy, that she had enough of sorority talk from the old days, as well weddings and baby talk from the new days, and instead preferred to catch the latest episode of Mickey Mouse that could be streamed on my cellular device. Considering I had exhausted all my other options of coloring, princess-playing, and piecing together a portable potato head, I acquiesced her request to "wah-tch Mickey pease," for the last few minutes of my dinner date.

It was during the hand-off that the unspeakable happened, and my iPhone slipped out of her ten tiny fingers before bouncing off the edge of the booth and ending up face down on the concrete floor. Karen scooped it up and handed it over, but not without a horrified look on her face as we both realized the screen was completely shattered.

Shit. Sorry, but... Shit.

I didn't really think it was going to break. For a second, I felt a wave of panic rush over me as I realized that I didn't have insurance for my phone and this wasn't going to be a cheap fix. Then, I thought to myself... "Ok, gurrl needs to get a grip. This is a phone." It did not mean my life was ending. Cancer had already tried that approach and I was now privy to such shenanigans and I wasn't going to fall for that again. I'm not gonna sweat the small stuff. I sweat enough with my hot flashes and until my patent for a personal air conditioned bubble is approved, I'm not giving my body more reason to revolt.

Truth is, I have a pretty good handle on which things are important in life and which things need to be shrugged off. In a two year span of time, I lost my job as a second grade teacher #districtcuts, am going through a divorce #nohusbandnoproblem, and gotten cancer #boobissues. Those have been the absolute worst and hardest times in my life, all at once, and they are very big lessons to learn; but, being positive is how I cope. I have preached it here before and it doesn't take a broken cell phone to illustrate my point but it does make it so much more obvious about what deserves your focus in life.

I'm actually, incredibly happy and instead of being resistant to change, I'm excited of what is going to come next... even $150 later for a cellphone repair. #Longest20minutesofmylife.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy Cancerversary to me!

A Cancerversary. It's a real thing, you can Google it. It can mean different things to different people; but, to me, it means survival. January 31st was my first Cancerversary. That is 365 days of me surviving Breast Cancer. It is also 365 days of me constantly thinking of the Scarlet Letter C, with which I have been branded and wondering if I somehow caused my body to turn against me, or if I could have done anything differently in order to prevent it. Was it birth control? Was it the 3 month phase in my life when I had a soy latte addiction about 6 years ago? According to my doctors, its just bad luck. So, I don't really have an answer and that has left me with a year of being imprisoned in my own mind with wonder and worry. I worry about Avery mostly. I worry about her future and my place in it. But, gradually, as the days have passed, I have begun to release myself from this mental torture. I have accepted that they are things that I cannot change, and instead of letting these negative thoughts consume me, I choose to be positive. That doesn't mean that everyday is easy. Aside from the mental ailments, there are obviously physical ones as well. The hot flashes are actually worse that I anticipated them to be. Little did I know that my joke about my makeup dripping off my face into a puddle, wouldn't be far from the truth. In the beginning, I would have at least 6 hot flashes per hour. Yes, PER HOUR. I'm no math whiz, but that's nearly 150 in a day. And trust me, hot flashes are not a ray of sunshine warming you in the cold winter months. Instead, they are like an explosion of intense heat that comes from deep inside and I can't tear my coat, scarf, sweater *insert whatever outer garment or accessory applies* off fast enough before my face turns bright red and I begin to sweat. They only last for a couple minutes, but afterward, my poor confused body temperature plummets and I'm left on the opposite end of the spectrum, shivering. I'm more than happy to say that the frequency of my hot flashes has improved greatly in the passing months and I now experience only about ten in a day's time and am now smart enough dress in multiple layers that I can expertly rip off faster than any veteran stripper. If only someone tossed me a dollar every time I had a hot flash... man, I would be rich. Oh, the important lessons that I'm learning in the third decade of my life... That includes appreciating my new breasts. I truly couldn't be happier with the results however I do not have any feeling in or around my chest and armpit area and that drives me crazy. It feels similar to when you initially try to stand up after your foot has fallen asleep. You know you're standing but it feels awkward. If I touch the area, I can feel the pressure but that's it and it never fades or goes away. The lack of feeling is a weird sensation and for that reason, I am unable to ever wear an under wire bra again, because it the under wire were to poke me, I wouldn't know if it were poking me. But really, no under wire bra? No girl ever complained about that! ...Because check out my rack... no seriously! I got some great melons during my visit to the produce stand and I don't have to wear a bra ever again, if I don't want to. That right there? That's the silver lining. There are certainly some tough realities about my cancer, and at times, it has taken it's toll on me mentally. There are some days that I have to try extra hard to find that silver lining or that I have to take a second glance at my cup to realize it is half full and not half empty. But, I'm celebrating my first cancerversary as a year that made me stronger and I'm looking forward to the challenges and Blessings of the next 365 days because I know greater things are in the works for me... Except hot flashes...there is nothing great about those... Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Custom Produce

I've never been particularly busty, just carrying around some average grapefruits for most of my young life. But when I got pregnant, I woke up one day with a rude awakening when I found watermelons in my bra instead. I just could not get it right. So, I finally decided to just take the shortcut and get cancer so that I could get new *custom* boobs completely. Well, maybe that isn't exactly how it went, but po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

Fast forward to present day... it has been nearly two months now since my bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy. I have been feeling great and once my recovery was underway, I started going in weekly to get my expanders filled. To recap for you, an expander is an empty and deflated implant. They were put in during my initial surgery and filled with 50 cc's of saline solution. From there, the plan was to go in weekly and have them inject an additional 50 cc's in each side to slowly begin stretching out my skin to allow for full reconstruction. So basically, what took me at least a solid decade to fully develop via puberty, I have now managed to surpass in 6 weeks. 

Initially, I expected the worst when it came to the expansion process. I didn't imagine that even the sweetest lollipop would be able to coax me out from under the examination table to allow the nurse to stick needles into what were once my boobs and now stood to exist as pitiful little mounds of skin. But, I was wrong and thus, pleasantly surprised. I hadn't realized that my entire chest was numb and I wouldn't actually feel the needle being inserted. As the expansions went on, I would gradually begin to develop more sensation but it was never intolerable, it just made my chest feel tight and very full. I was handling it so well that I went from one visit per week up to two visits per week in order to speed the process up. In order to do so, that meant my last visit was going to be a double dose and instead of the normal 50 cc's, I would be receiving 100 cc's in each side. This was a lot to take in, literally, and I could see my bust increase right before my eyes. This was the most uncomfortable fill for a few days following as my skin stretched to fit the growth; but, it was also the most important fill because it meant... I was done. And, I was done fast.

One thing that I have been continually Blessed with throughout my cancer journey? Doctors that get me. Each of my doctors, and nurses for that matter, have seen me for who I am and believed in me. My plastic surgeon was no exception and he knew that I wanted to fly through this process and regain some normalcy in my life. I'm not joking when I say that I know that I'm going be okay. Its not a futile attempt at being a martyr, it is my only option. And, its working. In fact, my oncologist commented that she was impressed because she had never seen anyone go through the reconstruction process so quickly. Maybe my cancer had tried to get the best of me by outsmarting the Tamoxifen and progressing, but I evened the playing field with my first surgery and now I'm about to take back the lead by continuing to kick ass with reconstruction and rehabilitation. Ashley: 2, Cancer: 1.

So, now that my expanders have been filled to their max, I'm ready to move on to the second step in the reconstruction process and that is to have the expanders removed and replace them with implants. This is another surgery aaaaaand, it takes place... tomorrow! It will take less than two hours and as along as everything goes well, it should be an outpatient procedure and I will be back home, in my own bed tomorrow night. The recovery will be far easier than my first surgery; however, I will still be uncomfortable for a few days and have some restrictions on my physical activity... aka picking up my baby. Grrr.

But what's a little gain without a little pain? I'm gonna rock it tomorrow and come away with some sweet custom melons that make the whole produce aisle envious.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Did It!!

I got to the hospital two hours early on the day of my surgery and the walk through the revolving door, spun me into a whirlwind of activity. After registering as a patient, I was placed in a pre-op room where I was given a gorgeous, dusty blue, hospital gown that could easily rival couture apparel found on the runways at Fashion Week. The neat thing about this gown, however, was that it was attached to a tube that circulated heat through the gown in order to warm my body temperature in preparation for the cold and sterile operating room. In reality, the toasty garb just intensified my hot flashes while blowing in so much air that it poofed up and made me look like I had already gotten a triple Z size boob job. My surgery was scheduled to begin at 11:30 but because of it's extensiveness it ended up being delayed until 12 o'clock. That doesn't sound like a long time but when you are about to surrender yourself to three surgeons who are planning to remove everything that makes you a woman...30 minutes feels more like 30 hours. Finally, it was time and the anesthesiologist gave the go-ahead to release the flow of medicine that would begin to make me sleepy. I vaguely remember the trip to the operating room, down a hallway of all windows that featured a stunning view of the Chicago skyline. The last thing that I remember was seeing a familiar set of eyes of a surgical team member, hidden behind a mask before I fell asleep............................

.......................I don't remember much about being in the recovery room after surgery. I remember opening my eyes but finding it impossible to keep them open before they fluttered shut again. It wasn't until I was on my way to my room that I started becoming more coherent. I could hear the voices of the hospital staff that transported me and as we got closer, those of my family members, but they seemed so far away. However, the more coherent that I became, the more pain that I realized that I was in and I became very emotional. I remember the only part of my body that I could move, without being in severe pain, was my index finger. Attempting to move any other part of my body reduced me to tears. That pain followed me into the night and the next day. I would like to think that I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, but when the discussion of removing my catheter arose, I lost it. The mere thought of adjusting myself to get comfortable in bed, let alone walking to the bathroom seemed impossible and it was at that point, on the second day, that a pain team was brought in to reassess my pain management and not only treat my surgical pain but also to be cognizant of my bone pain as well.

To be honest, once my pain was under control, I became a new person. The new medications had been added to my repertoire, adding up to 6 total. They had been administered that morning and by the afternoon I was out of bed, sitting in a chair. Even better yet? That evening, I was cruising down the hallway, albeit at a pace so slow that a snail could race me and beat me twice... but, at least I was walking. Because of my pain, I stayed in the hospital for three days instead of the assumed two. The day that I was discharged, the ride back home to the suburbs was carefully piloted as I clung to a pillow which creating a barrier between my chest and the relentless tightness of the seat belt. Yes, I was still a rule abiding citizen and gritted my teeth in the name of safety. I've told you before that I am rule follower and some things never change. Besides, if I'm not going to let cancer kill me then I'm sure as hell not gonna allow myself to possibly be ejected from the car to become roadkill in the event of an accident.

The subsequent days at home were spent in a bit of a fog. I maintained a uniform of yoga pants and zip up hoodies that I had stocked up on prior to my surgery. The zipper front allowed me to have easy access to the two drains that were attached my surgical sites. I would refer to my surgical sites as my boobs, but I didn't really have those anymore. Luckily, I wasn't entirely carved out like a Thanksgiving turkey and was instead left with small mounds that each housed an expander filled with 50 cc's of saline solution. Before leaving the hospital I was fitted with a special surgical bra that opened in the front and that I was required to wear 24/7 (swapping out for clean ones daily, of course). The drains that were attached to me were long tubes that were sewn into a hole below my incision site. The drains themselves looked like grenades. This term was coined by my friend Dana and her mom Laura, whom is also a breast cancer survivor, and whom has offered me a lot of valuable surgical advice. The purpose of the grenades was to catch the excess fluid forming in my breasts. I had to empty and measure the amount of liquid twice a day and keep record of it. As time went on, the amount would lessen but I was still extremely protective of my drains. In the shower, I had to wear a lanyard around my neck that I could clip the grenades to and when I was wearing my signature hoodies, I would carefully place them into the pockets. I say carefully because I learned the hard way what would happen if one fell....it was incredibly painful and felt like something was being ripped out of me. I had developed such a complex about my drains that my friends nicknamed me "T-Rex," because I would walk around with my arms protectively folded up in front of my chest with my hands just hanging there.

Going to bed at night was slightly a production. I had to sleep sitting up while having pillows to prop up each of my arms. I also had to have my fan positioned ever so specifically to help ward off hot flashes, just as a child might use a night light to keep away monsters. Then, I would take my medicine and fall asleep for a half hour. After that initial 30 minutes, I would wake up and request a snack of cheese and crackers. For some reason, I didn't have much appetite during the day but once I was good and doped up for the night, the munchies set in. My mom, aka Nurse Nancy, would bring them in and sit next to me (to make sure I didn't choke) while I ate them...with my eyes closed. Yep, I was sleep eating and it was slightly ridiculous but became a nightly ritual during my first week home.

During the day, I behaved slightly more normal and would spend most of it sitting on the couch and visiting with my amazing friends and family that stopped by to keep me company or I would read books in bed with Avery. And, sticking with the original theme and title of my blog, I still got up and showered everyday, got dressed, and put on makeup. The only thing that I couldn't do was raise my arms above 90 degrees, so doing my hair was impossible. I was at the mercy of whoever was nearby and sported some extremely fabulous hairdos, let me tell you. Perhaps my overall look wasn't what one would describe as "cute," but I was still determined that I was going to get up and do something with myself, even if it was crooked eyeliner (silly narcotics made it hard to focus) or a lopsided bun. I knew that my recovery would be more successful and faster, if I made an effort.

It turns out, I was right. In the follow up appointments with my surgeons, I was told more than once that I am healing remarkably and looking very healthy. The recovery from having my ovaries removed was extremely easy because the surgery was laparoscopic, so it was the bilateral mastectomy that would take longer to heal from. But, 10 days after my surgery, I was able to cease all medications -during the day- and also have my drains removed. It was a huge victory for me and being drain free made me feel like a new person. Although, the feeling of a nurse yanking plastic tubing out of my body is something I hope I never have to experience again and after that pain subsided, is technically when I started feeling like a new person.

But now, I am nearly a month out of surgery and I am feeling great. I started taking small field trips out of the house each day, to now being able to resume mostly normal life, I say mostly because I have 3 more days until I am allowed to pick up my daughter...and yes, I'm counting them down. It was a big surgery to undergo and a somewhat challenging recovery, but I would do it again tomorrow, if I had to. Every time that I look in the mirror, I pause because I see the scars that will never completely disappear and I know that everyday they will be a reminder that I'm different from other women who have natural breasts or who are able to have children. But, to be honest, I don't really care. In fact, I'm proud of that difference because it will also always be a reminder of the courage and strength that I possess... just in case I forget...


I documented each step of the experience with photos to share on my blog. I should probably be embarrassed of some of them; but really, my blog is about being real...

This was my size Z boob job via my heated gown.

Here we go!!!

After surgery... I probably wouldn't have known your name at this point.

The morning after.

My first time sitting up, out of bed. I was already rocking my signature
hoodie and enjoying my favorite kale smoothie!

My sweet angel came to visit mommy in the hospital.

Time to go home!

The best part of my recovery.

Four weeks after surgery- I did it!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Round 3...Total Knockout!

I was watching Avery sleep the other night and as I bent down to kiss her, the lavender fragrance of her blond curls filled my senses. The sweet smell of my baby got me started thinking about how fast she is growing up and how her personality is really starting to explode. She bounces around the living room singing songs in her own Avery-language and loves all things duck, ball, and book. She is so busy that it is becoming a rare occasion when I can scoop her up for a snuggle, so I used this silent and rejuvenating moment to refocus my energy and to promise her, with my kisses on her soft baby cheeks, that I will fight. And I will fight hard.

Then, those tiny blond curls started to tickle my nose and I desperately tried to conceal an impending sneeze as I attempted to escape the room, tripping on everything on my way out...typical.

In this particular fight, I'm not going to give the cancer a chance. So, just when it thought it faked left and gained the upper hand by outsmarting the Tamoxifen... I'm going show up in round 3 with a new game. Surgery.

On Friday September 13th, I will have surgery. Go ahead, I will give you a second to get over the irony. However, feel free to dance with a black cat, shatter a mirror the same way I break plates, or even walk under a ladder 17 times if you wish, because Friday the 13th has a new meaning now! It is a lucky day and on this day, I will be having surgery to have my ovaries removed, have a double mastectomy, and to start the beginning stages of reconstruction. It is a huge overhaul and the recovery will be rough, but I'm not backing down now. The surgery is not a part of any trial, it is completely elective. I have a wonderful oncologist who heard me; she saw me for my age and as a mother and she stepped into my corner to help me be as aggressive as possible.

The surgery will be about 4-5 hours and it will begin with an oophorectomy to remove my ovaries. If you ask me, the name oophorectomy sounds like they ran out of actual medical terms and picked up this ridiculous name off the cutting room floor. Pun intended. Regardless, this is actually the next treatment, as I explained in my last blog, because I have to be post-menopausal to continue on with any further medications. Sure, I'm bummed about hot flashes and the lack of any more Barrett Babies; but, on the flip side, the benefit is pretty obvious.

Once that portion of the surgery is completed, the breast surgeon will step in to do the double, or bi-lateral, mastectomy. This is not standard treatment for Stage IV and is completely elective but the end result will be the removal of my breasts and thus, two of the tumors and original sources of my cancer. I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy for aesthetic purposes and achieving that will be the third, and final, part of my surgery performed by a plastic surgeon. It will be his job to create pockets in which he will place expanders. An expander is essentially an empty implant and will be filled slowly with saline in the weeks after surgery, to stretch my skin out and allow it to fit actual implants. The examples that I have seen of his work are reassuring and promising.

My surgery will require a two-day hospital stay, so as long as everything goes well then I will be headed home on Sunday. The recovery will be about 6 weeks with the first two weeks being the most difficult. In that first 14 days, I wont be able to lift my arms above 90 degrees, so that includes picking up Avery. That will be a big challenge for me, but the instructions are strict and if sacrificing two weeks means that I have a better chance of being at her high school graduation, or even her wedding...then it is a small price to pay.

There is a lot to consider and a lot of planning to do in preparation for such a large surgery. As the days of September starting closing in on the 13th, it is all becoming more real. I think it even makes the fact that I have cancer seem more real. But, I'm not scared... I'm positive and I'm determined. I'm positive because I believe that only great things can come of this and I'm determined to win this fight.

Now, let's not end on a woe-is-me or worrisome note. Only positive thoughts need apply. And, since I have so many cheerleaders rooting me on...I came up with a cheer to celebrate the occassion... say it with me now!

1, 2... boobies off you
3, 4.... ovaries no more
5, 6.... brand new t*ts
7, 8.... hope doc puts em on straight
9, 10.... HEALTHY AGAIN!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cancer Fun Fact #54,798: I'm Shrinking!

Cancer Fun Fact #54,798: I'm shrinking!

This post is really just for fun, so it's going to be short and sweet... just like me.

For those of you who know me personally, you may be confused because the fact of the matter is that I'm not short. (You can stop there however, because we all know the rest of it to be true, I am sweet). Most of my post-puberty life, I have measured at about 5 feet 9 3/4 inches tall, rounded out to a nice solid 5'10". But now, I'm finding that in my post-menopausal life, I am instead measuring in at 5'7"....

<enter perplexed look>

This was a shocking revelation for me to say the least. I was at a Doctor's appointment at Loyola (when I was shopping around for the trial) and the nurse took my height. As she was mumbling the measurement to herself to record, I leaned in and asked her how tall I am. She replied that I'm 5'7" and I (being tall) shot a this-chick-is-nuts look over her head to my mom. I said, "I'm sorry but that cannot be right, I've been nearly 5'10" my whole adult life and I think we should double check."

The nurse agreed, so I stepped back up on the rickety scale and felt her maneuver that metal piece down onto the top of my head. This time, I was very careful to stand up extra straight and I hardly winced when the metal piece crushed the pouf in my carefully styled hair. When she was done, I gingerly stepped down so as not to disturb it's positioning, and I waited... STILL 5'7"!!!

I just said okay and mentally dismissed this poor girl as being confused. Yes, I'm aware that she does this as part of her job, everyday, but I also know that I'm tall and always have been, everyday. SO, one of us had to be crazy and I had already decided it wasn't me.

I proceeded on with that appointment and pretty much forgot about the height thing. It wasn't until another appointment with the ovary-surgeon that it came up again. This time, the nurse just asked me how tall I am. I started to answer, then looked at my mom and paused. I shrugged my shoulders and told her that I didn't really know and perhaps we should re-measure me. I repeated the same procedure, but this time had to wait for the results because the number was in centimeters and the nurse needed to convert it. Talk about strange suspense...

After a few minutes, she popped her head back in the room and confirmed that I am, indeed, five feet and seven inches tall.... So, that's it. I even typed it out so that you could be sure to read it correctly.

Huh. Interesting.

As it turns out, the cancer that is in my spine is wreaking havoc on my stature and has knocked me down about 2.5 inches closer to the ground. Being the tall the girl is not something that I ever thought that I would miss and although I don't technically feel physically different, it is still a strange phenomenon for me to wrap my mind around.

So, I guess, now I begin my life as a short person. Well, maybe not short per say, but if I continue with this trend then I might just secure myself a place in the circus as the "Incredible Shrinking Woman!" In the meantime though, bring on the higher heels!!



Disclaimer: If you, or someone that you know, knows the nurse from Loyola then I extend my sincerest, but still understandably baffled, apologies for thinking she was the crazy one.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is it getting hot in here? Oh no, that's just my early menopause!

 I got chosen for surgery!!!!

 Ok, wait a second... let me back up.

It wasn't very nice to trick you in that way. I was actually chosen for surgery; but, not like you may think, it isn't a part of the trial. Let me explain...

If you are a Facebook friend, as well as an avid blog reader, then you know that last Tuesday was the day that I received my latest PET Scan. I get scans every 3 months to see how I am responding to my current treatment plan. Then, on the following Thursday, its results day. Dun. Dun. Dun.

Unfoooortunately, this time... the results were not so good.

As it turns out, my cancer is progressing. It has not invaded any other parts of my body; however, it is showing more activity in the currently affected areas than before. They can tell because the radioactive material that they inject into me, for the scan, is glowing a little bit brighter than it was last time. The increased activity is caused by the fact that my medicine, Tamoxifen, is no longer doing it's job of blocking my body's hormones from feeding the cancer. Uh what?! Someone at the big ole Tamoxifen factory is going to be getting a very heated letter from me later, demanding a refund!

While I sign, seal, and deliver my disgust for a "faulty" drug, the real next step is surgery. So, see...I wasn't completely lying... I did get chosen for surgery, only this surgery is to remove my ovaries. In doing so, my body will no longer be able to produce the progesterone, estrogen, or babies. This also means that I go into early menopause. Eeeks! I'm not sure that I'm ready for my body to jump ahead 25 years...I know I'm not exactly a spring chicken anymore but that seems like it could be a bit of an extreme change. I've experienced hot flashes with my current medication and let me tell you, multiplying those by like ten (a day) to where I'm suddenly watching my makeup drip down my face in a sweaty puddle, while standing in an air conditioned room, does not appeal to me. But this is how we will beat cancer because my body cannot have those hormones anymore, so it must be done. Please remind me to put a pocket fan on my next shopping list...

Additionally, in the wake of this slightly unnerving news, I also found out that my current status makes me ineligible to sign up for the surgical trial. I'm not gonna lie, that was a blow...or lack there of... that took the wind out of my sails. In fact, it caused my sails to complete deflate and tangle around me with emotion. I had previously decided that I was going to enroll in the trial and now it is not an option for me anymore. But I can't forget that my intention with the trial was to let "whatever is meant to be, be..." so I think I got my answer.

In reality, not much is going to change. Sure, I'm a little worse for the wear but really when it comes down to it, we are just trying a new technique. It is an event of trial and error to see what combination will best fit me and stabilize my cancer. It may be a shade of bad news, but it is not a darkness. We are moving on, as positive as ever.