It has almost been one year since my last radiation treatment. May, 2018. I am a breast cancer survivor. But it never leaves you.
Somehow going through cancer really changes things and even though all the doctors have said you are done with the treatments, there are still lingering effects.
I have to stay on Exemestane for 5 years. Since my cancer was estrogen based, the Exemestane gives a higher percentage that the cancer will not return. But with the Exemestane comes side effects. So far I only suffer with slight joint pain, a few more headaches and hot flashes. I am on Venlafaxine for depression and it is supposed to help with the hot flashes. Okay. To a small degree.
There are still lingering effects from the chemotherapy. I still have numbness and tingling in my toes. I decided to have both big toenails removed because the Taxol did a number on them. The podiatrist could not guarantee that they would ever be normal. So off they went and it truly does not look that strange. Right now both pinky toenails are black and not looking great. Another cancer survivor told me she had neuropathy in her feet as well and it took 3 years for the feeling to come back.
My hair, on my head, is coming in nicely. I wish it would have come in thick and curly but that didn’t happen. The rest of my body hair is coming back in patches. Now I only have to shave armpits and legs maybe every other month. The eyebrows have come in better and I finally have beautiful eyelashes again. Although I did splurge and buy the Lashbooster from Rodan & Fields. I am really glad I did that.
Then one day I noticed how much larger my right breast was from my left breast. The cancer was in the left breast and so all the radiation was focused on that breast. My doctor told me that it is normal for the area to shrink from radiation. (I should have asked to have radiation done on my belly.) So now I am left with my right breast too big for my bra and the left one barely filling it. I have gone to a plastic surgeon who agreed that there was quite a difference and he could reduce the right one.
But I have had to hold off on that surgery as my lower back is really causing me issues. This is not related to the chemo or radiation. I have always had lower back issues. A spine doctor was referred and off I went. Apparently my L4 & 5 are causing my back pain. The L4 is slipping. I went home considering what to do. Getting them fused together? But then a few days later, I had severe sciatic nerve pain at the back of my right leg and then I had numbness and tingling in the front of my right leg.
I went back to the doctor and was scheduled for an MRI. Now the MRI shows that my L3, 4 & 5 are all compromised and two of them are degenerating. There is also a cyst somewhere in all of this and everything combined is pinching my sciatic nerve. I now have an appointment at the end of the month with the spine doctor. I would like to know from the doctor what is happening and what his recommendations are. I have been doing stretches and yoga exercises to get relief but I am now worried about this silly cyst. Are you understanding my concern?
I have changed to living as much of an organic / natural lifestyle that I can. I have switched to a Paleo diet which I am enjoying. I make sure to take all the supplements my oncologist suggested. I will be starting a garden soon. I have planted a fig,kiwi and goji berry tree. Bill and I are also trying to finish off the landscaping around the house via a great landscape guy. Some things we can do. Others not so much.
I go riding 5 days per week. I love the barn Gizmo lives at and Gizmo has helped me through so much. Equine therapy is the best therapy. And the love I have for my horse keeps me anchored. The farm is in a beautiful setting and being able to just have the sun on my face, the wind in my horse’s mane and smell the good country freshness is my best medication.