A couple weeks ago, it hit me that I have been trying to accomplish quite a bit and maybe putting too much pressure on myself. There is a lot going on right now. In addition to chemotherapy and work – my brother is getting married (exactly a week from today).
I joined a yoga study through UCSF which is checking to see the effect of chemotherapy on sleep and if yoga can help. Once a week I work with a yoga instructor who provides me breathing and flow exercises and then every day I perform 20-40 minutes practice at home.
I also am trying to understand what else I need to do to take care of myself, have been exploring resources in San Francisco, have contacted a few organizations and picked up a lot of books and brochures. I just have not had time to do anything with most of them yet.
In addition, I am not really into interior design and don’t have an eye for it, but I have been wanting to upgrade the furniture in my apartment for a couple years. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and realized that I will be spending a lot of time at home for the next few months, I finally asked Mona and my family for help with this project. In two weeks, at the end of December and beginning of January, my living room and bathroom were painted, and new furniture in my living room was ordered and assembled. It already looks like a different place. I am so happy I asked for support and have wonderful people around me who quickly stepped in to help.
The bedroom is a bit harder, since I have accumulated a lot of things and do need to spend time and de-clutter. I really wanted to get this all done by the end of February. But with everything going on, I have not been able to do it.
As I was starting to get upset with myself for not being able to do everything I wanted to do (de-clutter, upgrade my bedroom, review all cancer resources, be efficient and successful at work, go shopping for wedding outfits, do what little I can to help with the wedding, etc.) , I realized something.
I don’t have much control over what is going on in my body right now that I have this disease in me - I cannot control the size of the tumor, or what kind of surgery I will have, etc. Because of this imperfection in me that I cannot control, I have been trying to be as perfect as I can with everything else, which is impossible, and setting me up to be disappointed in myself.
So I let a lot of it go. I don’t need to accomplish everything now. This journey will take months, and I have time to get an understanding of all resources out there that I may need. I also have time to de-clutter an apartment I have lived in for 14 years. I will have more time in April when the chemotherapy will be over and I have a month to let my body recover before surgery. And as much as I have already started to create a to do list for April, I have accepted that the most important task for me will be to rest and recover to prepare me for the next step in this journey – which is surgery.
Since I last wrote, I have now had 2 more chemotherapy sessions (the last one was Friday March 1st). These sessions are different as they are giving me a new drug Taxol. In addition to anti-nausea medication I also receive Beandryl through the IV. When I take Benadryl as a pill, it knocks me out. So getting it through the IV really did a number on me.
I did have some different side effects after the first Taxol appointment – pain in my fingers, pain in the legs, some weakness- but most of the side effects lasted a day or two.
My cousin Yash took me to the appointment on February 15th and a friend Swati who lives a few blocks from the hospital, also came by.
That weekend my parents came up with my cousin Shikha and her husband Shekhar to visit me. Gaurav, Kimberly and Yash also came by. It was great spending time with them and also helped to distract from the side effects.
I had brunch with my friend Paul, who is co-chairing the San Francisco Chapter of Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy with me. And then I was so glad to meet my friend Rosanne and her husband Danny from Pittsburgh who were in the bay area to visit their daughter and came to SF to have lunch with me.
Later that week, I went on a business trip to San Diego for a convening for one of my projects.My coworkers Jane( my manager) and Theresa also joined me. The convening was great, and health wise, I was fine, though I did make sure to rest between sessions.
In the end, February ended up being a very busy month!!
This past Friday, March 1st I had my 6th chemo appointment. My friend Preeti who lives in Vancouver made a trip out here to spend the weekend with me and take me to this appointment. I had not seen her in a couple of years and it was so nice to spend time with her and catch up. I am blessed to have such a wonderful group of family and friends who are supporting me during this time.
On Saturday, Sarika, Ronak and the girls came up to the city and along with my brother, we all met for brunch and hung out for a few hours (unfortunately I did not take any pictures!)
I just flew to Houston today (another business trip) and I will head to Boca Raton for the wedding festivities late Wednesday! I did start to notice my legs hurting again – hopefully it is a one day thing because I do think I will need to dance next weekend =).
Update from Dr. Lee Char (Breast Surgeon)
On February 26th, I met with Dr Lee Char (the surgeon who I met with in December). Ronak joined me at the appointment. Dr Lee Char did an ultrasound and said that the tumor has decreased since my last ultrasound and is at about 1cm. She also said the tumor near my lymph node is about 7.5 mm, so it has decreased a bit.
I was expecting to have a discussion about having a lumpectomy vs mastectomy and risk factors. But Dr Lee Char said that the chemotherapy has been effective in decreasing the tumor and because my genetic test came back negativen- there is no need to discuss a mastectomy and I will be having a lumpectomy!
The other factor is the lymph nodes (the second tumor site). Dr Lee Char said that most likely she will only need to remove 1-4 nodes, which means I can have a sentinel node dissection rather than an axillary node dissection, which is more invasive. However, we will not know for sure until I have a Breast MRI after the chemo is done. (My last chemotherapy appointment is March 29th!!). I will also meet with Dr Lee Char in April to go over the Breast MRI and discuss the surgery and lymph nodes in more detail. For those interested, this link was helpful.
My next post will be after my brother's wedding!