Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012

Never realize when I neglect the blog until something reminds me.  Today, it was a buddy at work asking if all is good....and is.

Surgeries from the spring cleared up nicely and boy are the scars from the plastic surgeon noticeably "prettier!"  Was a tough financial pill to swallow (I'm still paying monthly deductible payments, but got 0% through "Care Credit."  If you have to have surgery, ask your surgeon about Care Credit.  Depending on the surgeon's offer, they offer 0% for different terms, which is definitely helpful!)

I'm finishing another round of Efudex on my breasts.  They start off the size of a pencil eraser and then just like before...reaction spreads...then I spread the treatment....reactions spread more.  Next time, I'm going to just draw a giant circle around the little spot and treat the WHOLE DAMN THING!  I've always been one to tackle the hard stuff first and this is no different.  If it's going to react, then let me react as much as possible and kill as much cancer as I can.

Right now, the treatment areas center on my breasts, so no photos and believe me that's a good thing :)  Sores are definitely larger and more concentrated, so I am absolutely glad I'm doing it!  I haven't changed any of my routing this time around either.  Workouts have stayed the same, even have a 400mile race 2 days from now.

As in the past, the itching DRIVES ME CRAZY, but I don't want to put anything on there that might even even the teeniest chance of decreasing the Efudex efficacy.  I plan to just grind it out, then use the steroid ointment after the treatment ends.

I continue to be surprised when I get feedback and requests, but please keep asking.  Can't believe how much this gets read and I just hope it helps prepare some folks better than my doctor prepared me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

(Round 2) Day 35 - April 10, 2012

Healing is proceeding well...just a few scabs left and some itching too!  Strikes me as weird that each photo shows me what I wish I'd done more of.  Since you're going to go through tough times, just bite the whole thing.  Now, I wish I'd gone ahead and done my whole neck too.  Maybe next fall, I'll tackle that.  At the time you're going through it, all I can focus on is what I'm going through, so afterwards, I see where I wish I'd taken an even bigger bite I guess?

This weekend, I globbed on the sunscreen of course and the spots that were really hard scabs on my arms softened up great and those scabs (and the itching that came with it) came off.  The spots on my breast aren't healing like the others but I'm guessing it's because they stay in such close contact with the bra that they will just take a little longer.  Assorted spots on my leg, shoulders, etc. seem to all still be progressing nicely.

Got clean bill of health from the surgeon today and will start applying Mederma to the surgery spots next week to help with scarring, etc.  Since two are right below this photo, I'm looking forward to seeing progress!  He continued to compliment the Efudex results on my face, so I'm looking forward to seeing my chest and other spots clear up.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

(Round 2) Day 26 - April 1, 2012

(I know I got THIS date right!
Itching still driving me nuts, but it's definitely better than before.  The steroid ointment really helps the scabs soften up and I've been able to get quite a bit off.   This time, there's not the raw skin underneath like my face because I waited a few days before using the steroid, so not as much pain as before!  There's still a few isolated spots that showed after the first couple weeks and I'm going to continue treating them just to get them killed.  Still.....I see other little spots on my chest still appearing and it is KILLING me not to treat them and kill them.  I'm meeting the dermatologist again this week and will ask what she thinks about continuing with spot treatment event though it's getting hot outside now.

Had my first FULL shower 2 or 3 nights ago and OMI that was the best thing in the WHOLE WORLD!!!  I've been taking "navy" showers since surgery to keep dressings dry.  Though I've been getting everywhere, there's just something SO much better about showering all at one time and rinsing all at one time :)  They're very short, so dressings don't get waterlogged, but practically feels decadent!

Surgeries are almost a week old now and I'm VERY diligent about icing multiple times a day.  Nobody said to, but I figure that's what I'd do for almost any other injury, so why not there too?  Plus I guess it makes me feel a little less passive.  Ready for some working out.....not really, but not working out just makes me fatter and I spend more money!!

(Round 2) Day 24 -March 30, 2012

Recuperating from the 3 surgeries fine.  Just wish things wouldn't take so long!  Stopped the Efudex on my chest before surgery and figured 20 days was enough, which means the itching is INSANE this week!!  Trying to keep my chest covered (just for no questions or stares), but clothing is driving me CRAZY!  Started putting on the steroid ointment, which helps some of the itching, but it also quickly softens some of the scabs and I think that's its real effect.  Since it's so gooey, gotta be real careful about washable clothing :)

I'm not positive about actual days since surgery date, but if I'm off, it's only by a day or so.  I got through the week just fine, but definitely a little preoccupied and not necessarily with the blog unfortunately.

The hardest part about stopping the Efudex is that as it hits my system, I see all these other little spots showing up and I SOOO want to kill 'em!!!  But it's time to stop now.  Getting hot outside for starters and on my ride last wknd, it got warm and I got pretty nauseous, which isn't normal for me, so I figure it was the Efudex in my system....and they say, it must be done in the winter after all.  So.....I'll plan to see what I can tackle in the fall.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

(Round 2) Day 21 - March 27, 2012 SURGERIES

Lots can happen in a few days, huh? :)

Last Friday I sent a photo of my Efudex treatment spreading into the surgery area and late Friday eve got an email back that he didn't have any concerns about Monday's surgery.  Did my last 250mile ride with my buddies Saturday for a while and got ready for Monday.

The initial meeting with the plastic surgeon went well and he even complimented me on the Efudex treatment, saying more people should do it to kill the pre-cancers.  He told me he's done his face several times and would continue to do it every few years.  My first thought was HORROR!  Again and again??  After thinking though, it makes sense.  Surely, my next time won't be anything like the first?  After all, I'll just be killing new ones and it should be a lot less severe.  Definitely planted the seed for doing it again in 5 years or so??  No telling, but at least the seed is planted.

Surgeries seemed to go fine (I guess)  Anesthesia was a lot tougher on me than I had hoped.  Instead of being the one making everyone laugh as I came back awake, I was the one throwing up...what a hoot THAT is for everyone :)

My friend Kelly was the best.  Hauling me around and making sure I didn't get off on the wrong foot with my recovery.  Constantly reminding me about the no bending, no lifting, etc.  Had no idea how much I "bend over!"  I really thought I'd be "ok" after a few hours and stocked up on things I needed to do, groceries, etc., but I did NOT stock up on the basics and really needed 7-Up, crackers and soup.   Got me through that first night for sure.

So now I figure some things out.    Feeling pretty beat up with both front and back surgeries, but I still think 1 rehab is the way to go.   Thought I'd be getting some work done, but there ain't no bopping goin' on.  Moving slowly....but I AM moving.  In between icing and naps of course.  Trying to go back to work tomorrow/Wednesday and see how I hold up.  Got my fingers crossed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

(Round 2) Day 17 - March 23, 2012

The itching is driving me crazy now.  I'm waking at night scratching and of course seeing little blood in the morning and trying to sleep on my side kinda smooshes my chest just enough that it hurts.  Trying to sleep on my back, but YUCK!  My buddy Mary said she stayed sleeping on her back after surgery and I can try it, but am also having a surgery on my lower back, so this will be interesting.  Starting mid-day yesterday, it's hurting to have clothing around the chest (no option of course!)    Put a tshirt on after my workout last night and it hurt enough that I took it off before I got home...and then I was wet AND cold :)  Trying an open-collar today, but also trying to camo the chest with a scarf and just moving it when it becomes too much.

Last bike ride this weekend and then time to get ready for surgeries Monday!  I've got my "magic" steroid ointment ready to go for when I get home.  When I did that on my face, that's when the sloughing started as it softened all the scabs, so plan is to be in the most pain next week all at once.....healing from surgery and raw skin.  I'd rather get it done all at once, so I can get started on the healing ASAP!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 16 - March 22, 2012

Sent the below to the primary surgeon with some other information today because I'm concerned the Efudex treatment is spreading too close to a surgery spot.  Trying to keep the requested clearance, but spots are popping up randomly as I continue treating.  Couple spots showing up on a breast, which is nowhere close to a treatment area.  As they appear,I'm adding them to the daily treatment, so long as they're nowhere near a surgery spot.  Been waiting to hear back for most of the day.....

Final pre-op tomorrow (Friday), then surgeries start Monday.....I'm ready to get this moving :)  Faster this is done, faster I can get back to real life, right?  One last 250mile bike ride with friends this weekend before my forced time off.

Close friend had same surgery (even same plastic surgeon) month ago and she is thrilled with her result, but is beating into me that "no exercise" means "no exercise!  Says any rise in body temp and/or sweating causes the dressings to falter and not perform correctly.  Her first dressing didn't come off for 2 weeks and due to unhealed areas, she was off a total of 3 weeks before resuming.  I have a race 3 weeks from surgery, and have high hopes of competing.....not doing well.....but hopefully showing up enough to maintain year-end rankings.  Silly, I know, but we all need something to keep us from living on the couch!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

(Round 2) Day 14 - March 20, 2012

Round 2 is going well I guess?  Started off doing spots, but when I saw the surrounding area (on my chest for example) responding also, I continue to expand the treatment zones.

Surgeries are scheduled for next week and I'm knocking them out back-to-back-to-back!  Since each wants me with no exercise for preferably 2 weeks, I want to do all the rehabs at once.  For the chest surgeries, no  lifting more than 5# for a week, then light for 2 more weeks.  No cycling because of the stress on the chest, but the plastic surgeon is modifying the dressing to use dermabond so I can resume some sweating sooner than later. :)  On the back surgery, no cycling because of the constant bend and stress on the lower back.  Since I have another race less than 3weeks from the surgeries, I'm hoping to sit straight up on the trainer and pedal as I start feeling up to it.  Guess my grandmother was right when she saw me on crutches for the ? time.  She shook her head and said "Pamela, you should just get fat."  Well, so far, sure feels like I'm on the track right now!

So, I am bummed about some of my treatment adjusting.  Chest surgeries want a 3" clearance of any Efudex treatment around the surgery spots.  Bummed because I see outbreaks and I'd rather just finish it.  Instead, I've tried to keep the treatment away and will just have to start it up again after I get clearance after the surgeries.  Though I started the Efudex 2 weeks ago, I continue to increase the areas, because I continue to see response and I'd like to do all I can right now because they say you can't do any of this treatment in the summertime, which means whatever doesn't get done soon, has to wait til fall.  I may be wrong, but I think waiting 6 months is what resulted in me having to have 3 surgeries now.

Not taking pix of each spot, but the chest is a large enough response area to share.  The itching is really getting annoying!  Since there's actual sores, direct contact is painful, but I can gennnnnntly rub a bit over clothing.  Surprised to see a spot pop up near my left shoulder, so I'm expanding over there now too!  I can't get the angle quite right to show the sores :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Well, I said 2013 was about trying a couple new things and what I REALLY meant, was not just grinding out 10,000km in long rides over and over, but mix it up, start doing some UMCA racing seemed logical, which I'm thinking of starting this weekend at the Hill Country race.  Why not!  I've only ridden my bike 4 times since Stock Show ended Feb 4 and I've got weekends off now....makes sense....go race 200 miles in some of the toughest climbing :)

What happened is I get to learn more about skin cancer for now.

I'm going through a round of Efudex (topical chemo) for 2 more weeks on 8 spots/sections of pre-cancers.  Have 3 spots that biopsied malignant, Basal Cell Carcinoma and have surgeries scheduled.  I really expected the "surgeries" to be very low-key, local anesthetic, go back to work....not gonna happen.

Just met with my first surgeon doing the 2 spots on my chest.  I'm going to request my biopsy reports tomorrow because sounds like 1 may be attached to a lymph node and the other has squamous tendencies.  He talked about a tendril, so I need to research more.  My derm. really wanted me to go to this particular plastic surgeon and it turns out he'll be doing MOHS surgeries where they basically just keep cutting until they get healthy report from pathology.   I'm THRILLED to not have to do multiple surgeons for the same surgery!  The other surprise is it won't be local anesthetic, but a general IV anesthetic, which means now I have to be a pain in the butt by having a driver, Dan will probably stay with me that night, etc.  What else I heard was....blah blah blah....get cookies....blah blah blah :)

The other bummer that I need to pursue more is working out.  He didn't want me doing any for the 3weeks of stitches/bandages, but acquiesced to 1 week off and I need to push him regarding the following 2 weeks.  Sounded like in addition to stitches, he may change the bandage to a type of dermabond (I'm thinking super glue)  Regardless, I'm ready to start working on some fitness after working 7days/wk all winter and what else I heard was blah blah blah.....stay fat.....race very slowly.....blah blah blah.

The other surgery should be able to be done in the doctor's office since it's on my lower back, but it's also a spot that apparently didn't really trigger any alarm.  In fact, it almost didn't even get biopsied, yet turns out it's basal cell too.  ug.  So far, NOTHING has turned out as simply as I've been led or that I've thought.  Guess the good thing is the chemo treatment should be over the day after surgery....guess I need to ask about that too.  Sheesh!

So, now I do pre-op next Monday, do the simple surgery (I think) next Friday, do the MOHS surgeries the following Monday, March 26th and see what all I can learn from this of course.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 2012 - Back to work!

My Dad's right....getting older ain't for the poor or the weak!  Time to get back on the skin care and bottom line is it feels like I've got crap everywhere.  Face still gets great reports and now time to address spots here & there elsewhere.

Went to have a few spots looked at and biopsies show malignant BCC's and pre-cancers too.  Funny thing is almost every spot, I had to point out and question after the doctor passed over it....all but one.  So, pay attention to yourself!  Bottom line is this as of March 6, 2012:

- Going to treat 7 pre-cancers with Efudex (same chemo I did on my face).  Spots are on chest, shoulder, hands, wrist, upper thigh and back

- 2 Chest biopsies 2 wks ago show malignant BCC's and due to the location, I have a meeting March 13th with a plastic surgeon due to the surgeries needed.

- A biopsy on my lower back came back malignant BCC and doctor thinks she can excise it in the office.  That procedure is scheduled March 23rd and a big wake-up call.  I asked her to look at this spot 1.5yrs ago and again last week and both times she felt it was not a concern.  Last week she agreed to biopsy just so I could have a clean slate and it was malignant.  Gotta remember, doctors are human and you really need to drive your own destiny when it's your body.  Doctors aren't perfect and we shouldn't expect them to be.

So, I start Efudex tonight for 3weeks on the spots and now have an eagle eye for anything pink and/or rough that wasn't that way yesterday!  The spot on my upper thigh I actually argued a bit telling the doctor it was just a bruise that popped up a couple days ago.....not a bruise!   All the spots are pretty small and I have high hopes Efudex will take care of the pre-cancers. 

I'm also experimenting with self-tanners again....brown fat's better than white fat, right!  So far, the one I'm liking the best is:,en_US,pd.html&cgid=430&start=5     
It still smells, but not as bad as some and I noticed a difference in just a couple days.  Plus, since it is already a caramel-color, it's easier to see where it winds up.  Doesn't last long, but I'm going to try and be good!!!  My bicycle riding keeps me in the sun days at a time, so it's always a struggle, but I'll keep at it!

Will try and post some pix as some of the pre-cancers start changing with the Efudex