Thursday, January 31, 2019

Recovery Update

I have a new normal, now.  Cancer sucks in many, many ways, and I'm introduced to more of them each day.  Living with cancer, going through treatment, and recovering from treatment all come with their own challenges, and it's really an entire world that a lot of people will, God willing, never have to learn anything about.

Emotionally, life after cancer treatment is difficult.  I've never been a hypochondriac, but am almost encouraged to be one now.  My white blood cells are still low (possibly as a result of the medication I'm on, though my MedOnc isn't quite sure of the cause), so I need to stay away from anyone sick, and call my team immediately if I develop a fever.  If I have any swelling in my right arm or trunk, I need to contact my team right away (signs of lymphedema).  If I have any acute bone aches, headaches, lumps, nausea, breathing issues, fatigue... basically, I should contact my medical team if I feel anything out of the "ordinary."  The problem is, my "ordinary" now is not what it used to be.

One good thing has come out of treatment - I have a higher tolerance for pain than I ever had before.  My monthly Lupron shots (to put me into/keep me in menopause) are supposedly painful, but I take them without flinching.  I'm living with daily pain, so what's a little bit more?  The medication I'm on - exemestane/Aromasin - has given me arthritis and incredibly achy joints all over my body, so my MedOnc is switching me to a different AI (aromatase inhibitor) to see if that will be more tolerable.  We'll see if it helps.  In the meantime, I'm trying to take no more than 1 Aleve a day, and I hobble like an 80 year old woman every time I get up.   But I'll live with it because I'll LIVE.  I'll take it over the alternative.

I burned the fingers of my right (cancer side) hand on the stove - just mildly - the other day, and the very next morning felt the beginnings of cording in my arm.  It's been 5 days now, and no amount of stretching or massage on my part has made it any better, so I've sent a message to my physical therapy team, and they're getting an order so I can get an appointment set up.  I love them, but I'm not looking forward to having the cording worked out.  My pain tolerance may be higher, but that will push it to the limit.

My 12 week LiveStrong program at the Y ends at the end of next week, and I highly recommend it to anyone recovering from cancer treatment.  I have 60-70% of my energy back, and I feel so much stronger than I did before I started the program.  It's free, and really has helped me to feel "normal" again.  

My hair is coming back in nicely, though with more grey than before.  It's curly, though still short enough that it looks wavy instead.  It's nice to have hair again!



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Monday, December 31, 2018

The Wizarding World

(continued)

Diagon Alley is just as incredible as Hogsmeade.  It's definitely worth it to have the park-to-park passes to see both sides, especially because you can ride Escape From Gringott's on the Diagon Alley side.

The first thing we did when exiting King's Cross Station was to dial the Ministry of Magic from the phone booth to listen to the recorded message.  Then we visited Stan Shunpike at the Knight Bus!



After that, we entered Diagon Alley!  You can look down the street of shops to Gringott's at the end, with the dragon on top.  And every 10 minutes or so the dragon breathes fire; if you're standing close enough, you feel the heat from it.



Inside Gringott's, as you enter the ride
 We ate brunch at the Leaky Cauldron, where we ran into a bit of an issue when we found out that they weren't able to accommodate my food allergies... with anything but a very large plate of grapes.

Jamie and the kids had an amazing breakfast, and I had... a lot of grapes.
We went into all of the stores, including Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, which looks straight out of the films.




More on the parks, including The Wizarding World, in future posts!



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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Our Celebration Trip

To celebrate the end of my active treatment, we wanted to do something pretty big, so we decided to take a trip  - to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  I'm a big Harry Potter fan, as is Gisèle.  Miles is really starting to get into it, too, and Jamie is tolerant of our obsession.

We paid for so many medical bills with our Southwest card this year that our points covered free flights for all 4 of us, and we found a combo deal for the hotel and tickets since we were going in the winter time.  We took the first half of Thanksgiving week, Friday - Tuesday, for our trip, which gave us 3 whole days at the park.

Miles hand-lettered a sign to hang so we'd see it as soon as we got home.




We stayed at the Cabana Bay Resort on Universal property, and really liked it there.  The hallways are the longest hallways I've ever seen, though, so if they ask if you want to be near the lobby, say yes.  (My "no, thank you" is the one thing I regretted about the hotel.)  They even have a Starbucks in the lobby which was really nice for a pick-me-up on the way to the park each morning as we caught the free shuttle.

Our first glimpse of The Wizarding World was Hogsmeade, and it was truly magical.  Staying at Cabana Bay gave us early access to the park, so we were able to get in before it got too crowded.  I snapped a picture of the kids right after they got their first glimpse of Hogsmeade, and Jamie got one of me.





It really does look exactly like the movies; the details are incredible.  I didn't get many pictures of the shop windows because the pictures would have been full of people's reflections, but the windows, especially, are amazing.

We went inside Ollivander's (there's a small one in Hogsmeade; the larger one is in Diagon Alley) and watched Ollivander choose a girl from the crowd and go through the wand selection ceremony.  The effects were really fun!


The first glimpse of Hogwarts itself almost made me teary.  We had beautiful weather, so the castle was framed by a clear blue sky.  You actually go inside the castle for one of the rides (The Forbidden Journey) and get to see some of the classrooms, Dumbledore's office, etc.


Since we had park-to-park passes, we were able to take the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley in the next park.





(to be continued...)

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