Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Weight Loss after Breast Cancer

Hey, Y'all!

First of all-I wanted to post this photo from one year ago that popped up on my Facebook memories.

The FB post said, "Radiation treatment today! One down-thirty two to go! Peace, love, radiation and HEALING!!"

Sometimes it's hard to believe it was a year ago, and other times it seems like it was a lifetime ago!

May 16, 2017  

May 16, 2018

I had an appointment on Monday with the NP (Wan) at my Oncologist's office for some blood work and follow-up for the two clinical trial studies I have been participating in. The only lab results I have received so far are the glucose numbers, and I was happy to see that the number is down from 98 to 91! I need to get that number down even more, but that's a good start. I should be receiving the rest of the results over the next few days.

I mentioned that the follow-up was for two different clinical trials that I am participating in, and one of these two I decided to drop out of. The study required that I take 300mg of aspirin daily, and for various reasons, I decided that I did not want to continue taking such a large dosage of aspirin. I will, however, continue with the second study.

In November of last year, my Oncologist asked if I would like to participate in a clinical trial study that investigates the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence. The study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology-in partnership with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Fitbit. The study will involve nearly 3,200 overweight and obese women with breast cancer to test if weight loss can help prevent the disease from returning.

The results of this study will help determine whether weight loss programs should become a part of the treatment for women with breast cancer.

Although I have been a runner for many years, I have struggled off and on with my weight. Over the years I have been motivated by different factors to change my eating habits in order to lose weight. Often, my motivation was related directly to vanity! I wanted to LOOK better. I wanted to fit into a particular outfit for a specific occasion. Sometimes I wanted to lose weight in order to feel better, but more often than not-it was that vanity thing!

When my doctor first suggested the Breast Cancer Weight Loss Study (BWEL) I jumped on it immediately because I so wanted to lose weight.

This time I had some pretty valid reasons for wanting to get rid of the excess weight.

  • To feel better about myself
  • To possibly help prevent a recurrence of breast cancer
  • To help future cancer patients/survivors
  • To improve my overall health
  • To set a good example for my family

Since starting on the Bwel program the beginning of December, I have only lost 7.6 pounds. That's not a lot. So maybe the program doesn't work?? Actually, I'm pretty sure it wasn't because the program didn't work, but because I didn't actually adhere to the plan the way I should have. I could give a lot of excuses-stress, holidays, birthdays, depression, etc. But it all boils down to the fact that I just didn't stick to the plan. I didn't keep my food log updated, I didn't always exercise as much as I should have, and I just ATE TOO MUCH CRAP that I should not be eating!

When I look at the graph of my weight over these past few months, I don't know whether to laugh or cry!!

I came away from my doctor's office with renewed determination to start living a healthier lifestyle and to get this excess weight off. Did you know that there have already been studies done that have shown that getting your BMI to a healthier number can decrease the risk of having a breast cancer recurrence by 55 to 60%???? That is freakin' HUGE!! Talk about motivation!! I had no idea we were talking those kinds of numbers here!

After talking to Wan, I decided that I have been underestimating the importance of living a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, and of getting the excess weight off. This is so much more than vanity. This could be life or death, folks!

Am I going to work harder on sticking with the program now? You bet I am! It's pretty much a no-brainer! I went through many, many months of treatments-chemo, surgery, radiation, and more- in hopes of getting rid of the cancer that had invaded my body, so why would I NOT do something that could very possibly keep that cancer from returning???

Do you struggle to get or keep your weight under control? If so, what motivates you? Is there any particular weight loss plan that has helped you?

I really appreciate any feedback you might offer! I should probably go work on my grocery shopping list now. I will be sharing some healthy recipes later this week.

Y'all take care!


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thankful Thursday

I know that the whole, "Thankful Thursday" thing has been done so many times, especially amongst us bloggers, but I am genuinely thankful today on this Thursday,  and every day for having had this remarkable woman in my life.


My dear, sweet, funny, loving big sister passed away last Tuesday. As extremely sad as I am about her passing-I am equally thankful that she was my big sister. Zebbie was 16 years older than me, and at times in our younger days, she felt like a second mother to me.

Pam and Zebbie on Easter Sunday

I'm sure there were times when she felt the same way--like I was her very bratty child!

After my Dad passed away when I was 12, Zebbie moved in with my Mom and me to take care of the two of us, and she spent most of the rest of her life taking care of those she loved, including 2 children of her own. Zebbie was a single Mom and often worked 2 jobs just to make ends meet. Her life definitely wasn't all sunshine and roses, and yet, I don't remember her complaining.

My BFF, Judy Ballew was at Zebbie's funeral-holding my hand all during the service. I don't think I would have made it through the day without Judy by my side. Judy reminded me of all of the times that Zebbie played chauffeur to the two of us silly girls--taking us shopping, to the beach, to concerts, amusement parks,  and pretty much anyplace we asked her to take us. She put up with a lot of teenage drama from the two of us (okay, probably mostly ME!) without complaints. Looking back, I don't know how (or sometimes why!) she did it!

Judy on the left, Pam on the right-Zebbie, as always-our photographer!

One of the biggest regrets of my life is that over recent years, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Zebbie. Our family moved to Connecticut and lived there for 12 years, and during that time I only saw her a handful of times. After moving back to Georgia, we still didn't see each other often, mainly due to health issues on both sides.  I have so many memories of my sister, and yet I feel there should have been more.

Friends-PLEASE-do everything in your power to spend time with your loved ones while you can.

This past Sunday was Zebbie's birthday. Her first in Heaven. Her sweet daughter Michelle had planned for family to stop in and wish her a Happy Birthday, even though she was not doing well and might not have known who we were. We were all sad that we didn't get to spend that day with her, but we were happy knowing that she was able to spend the day with our Mom, Dad, brother David and all of our other family and friends who were waiting for her with open arms.

Love and miss you, sweet sister.........Rest In Peace.........

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Welcome To My New (ish) Blog!

Welcome to my new(ish) blog! I'm calling this my "new blog" because even though I've had a previous blog with the same name (this is NOT my first rodeo, folks!), this is NOT that blog!! Same title, new content!

Yep, I've been having a bit of an identity crisis along with all of the other issues in my life!! I have been all over the place with blog titles, but I still think this one says it best!

I actually created this blog a while back, but for some reason, I had a difficult time actually coming up with the words to explain the purpose of the darn thing! Even now, I sit here staring at the computer as if I'm waiting for a sudden spark of brilliance to tumble out of my head and onto this post! The only problem is that instead of brilliance my head seems to be filled with fog these days! The kind of fog that I have come to know as chemo brain. 

Sooo.....I've decided that maybe instead of trying to find the purpose of this blog, I should share a bit of my story and perhaps the purpose will find me????!! Does that make any sense at all???

Anyway.....I am not going to try to fill in all the details of my life BBC (before breast cancer) in this post because after all, I have a LOT of years under my belt! I will share some of those details in a future post, but for now, I will start here--

In September of 2016, I was at my Primary Care Physician’s office trying to convince her assistant that I did INDEED need a referral for a diagnostic mammogram.

Earlier that day, I was taking a shower when I realized that my right breast was feeling really heavy compared to my left one. I immediately did a self-breast exam. I could not believe what I was feeling-not a tiny lump, but a massive knot in the bottom portion of my breast. HOW was I just noticing something that BIG?? I just stood there frozen for what seemed like forever. And then I promptly finished showering-got dressed and called to make an appointment with my PCP. I was told that she would not be in the office for a few days, but after I explained the situation (and possibly begged a little bit), I was told that I could see the PA  that same afternoon. I wasn’t thrilled about seeing the PA because when dealing with her on a couple of previous occasions, I felt that she was a bit “incompetent.” However, I needed to see someone to get the referral. I didn’t want to wait.

I was so shocked when the PA sort of laughed after examining me and said, “It’s NOTHING. You have lumpy breasts. The left one feels the same way.” NO, lady-it does NOT! I usually tend to trust what medical professionals tell me (well-up until then I did,) but I KNEW that I needed a diagnostic mammogram and I insisted that I get that referral! This woman made me feel silly and somewhat hysterical for insisting, but I stood my ground on this one, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.

After receiving the referral, I made an appointment at the Gwinnett Breast Center. First up was the diagnostic mammogram, which is a bit more painful than the routine mammogram, and it took much longer. The technician took a LOT of images and then took them to be examined by their doctor, after which she took MORE images. She then took those in for the doctor to see and was told to take even MORE images. At that time I was escorted back into the waiting area to find out what the next step would be.

I have to say that although I was very anxious, the staff at this Breast Center were so kind and accommodating-offering warmed blankets, beverages, snacks, and kind words that made the wait somewhat more bearable.

Then came an ultra-sound, followed by waiting for the doctor to look at the results. And then the doctor came in and did another ultra-sound herself. Things started to get a bit blurry around this time because my fears were beginning to be confirmed, even without actually hearing the words. The technician who did the mammograms was extraordinarily kind, and we chatted quite a bit during my trips back and forth from the waiting area to different examining rooms, and after the last round of images she had to take, she looked at me, grabbed me and gave me a hug. And that was when I knew for sure.

When I left the Breast Center, I was given a referral for a breast biopsy and written on the paper were the words-Highly suspicious for Breast Cancer.

After the biopsies (one on my breast and another on the lymph nodes under my arm), I was told that I would see my surgeon on October 3rd for the results. October 3rd was a Monday, and I have to say that it was a VERY long weekend.

Monday, October 3, 2016

As I sat with Ray in Dr. Quill’s examining room, I was wondering exactly HOW he would tell me that I had cancer. Up until that point, no one had said those words to me. I also wondered if he would tell me I was going to die.

As it turns out-Dr. Quill was very matter-of-fact. He walked into the room and said, “So, you are positive for breast cancer.” He didn’t give me very long for that to sink in before he said, “Are you ready to fight this thing?” I vaguely remember babbling something about how I had no choice…..I had a 15 y/o at home, a daughter in college and other kids and grandkids and that I HAD to fight! He then said, “Good-this thing is curable. We are going to fight it with every weapon available-chemo, surgery, and radiation. The treatments are going to suck, but we can do this." He then explained the expected treatment protocol and said that I should see Dr. Saker, my Oncologist right away so that we could get started immediately. And so the fight began........

Second Chemo Treatment

Radiation-Day 25
Getting Ready For Mastectomy

For anyone still reading my rambling-over the next few days, I will be sharing more about my journey through chemo, surgery, radiation and beyond.

I'm hoping that by sharing, I might possibly help some of you who may be on your own unplanned journey through breast cancer treatments. 

There are so many issues that go along with a cancer diagnosis. In addition to the physical aspects, the emotional and financial burden can be absolutely devastating to the patient and their loved ones.

I won't ONLY be talking on that subject though! I have recently taken on a new healthy lifestyle/weight loss challenge which I will be sharing. I will also be writing a LOT about my efforts to become a runner again.


I guess the primary purpose of this blog is to share how my personal journey has impacted my family and me and how we've survived thus far while hopefully providing some useful information, hope and maybe a little laughter to someone going through their own scary journey!??!!