Yesterday morning I had my follow-up visits at the Cancer Center, starting with a blood draw to check my levels. Unfortunately, it didn’t even cross my mind to apply lidocaine to my port ahead of time, so that needle stick was a bit painful! Then, because it hadn’t been accessed for about two months, I had a take a deep breath and cough a few times to get it going again!

While waiting on the results, I visited with Janis the lymphedema specialist and she checked my range of motion, gave me a couple more physical therapy exercises, and measured my fluid retention. We talked about lymphedema risk reduction, which fortunately is quite low since they only had to remove two of the lymph nodes (out of 25-30) in my right armpit. However, she still wants me to get a sleeve for prevention whenever I fly, and I should never get blood drawn from, needles poked into, or blood pressure cuffs applied to my right arm for the rest of my life. She also showed me where to take measurements of the circumference of my arm with a tape measure, and said I was the fastest person to read a tape measure that she’s ever seen! Really? Also, my extracellular fluid retention is down since the last time I visited her, so that’s great news!

Finally, I met with Dr. Corum to discuss the next stage of treatment and when to get started. The lab results were back by then and showed everything within the normal range except that I’m still a bit anemic. (Red blood count, hemoglobin and hematocrit numbers have barely changed since my last treatment.) For that reason, he said we can wait to restart the herceptin and perjeta infusions until June 15. I also mentioned that I had just gotten off narcotics a couple days prior, so it’s probably good to just continue to heal up as much as possible. I will also start on a hormone blocker when I start the infusions since my tumor was also estrogen positive. (It’s a single pill taken once a day for the next 7-10 years.)

Yesterday was also known as #blackouttuesday. When I got home from my appointments, I decided it was time to start watching some of the videos on racism that I had been saving to “watch later” from Facebook. I hadn’t really taken the time to process what has been happening in our country until then. Once I did, I broke. I felt so very sad and anguished over the experiences of the few(!) Black people I’m acquainted with, as well as many I don’t know. I was compelled to find out more, to listen more, and to speak up. I called a family meeting after dinner so I could talk to Kent and the girls about everything I was feeling and asked to hear how they were processing as well. It was so good to have open communication and hear each other’s opinions. We prayed together for our nation and for wisdom and for love to prevail. I’m still processing. I’m still listening. I’m still learning.