Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Day My Life Changed

Alright folks, we aren't quite done with the "one year later" posts- sorry. I have thought a lot about whether to write this or not, but occassionally someone newly diagnosed finds my blog and emails me complaining that the story ends before the beginning, so I thought I'd try this.

One year ago today I heard terrible words while sitting by myself in a doctors office. Actually, I didn't so much "hear" them as "read" them, because I demanded to see the pathology report myself and there were a lot of crazy sounding things, but at the end was the term sarcoma and nothing good ends with sarcoma. I knew nothing about the specific form of sarcoma they were diagnosing me with (some crazy version of chondrosarcoma), but I remembered all to well taking care of kids with sarcomas in residency and it was always bad. To say that I was scared might actually be the understatement of the century. I was numb, shocked, horrified. I heard about the possibility of amputation for the first time that day, and it just wouldn't process. I didn't know what to feel I didn't know what to say or how to act and I kept thinking this can't happen to me I have to work tonight. Fortunately, my orthopedist declared- Lisa you can't work tonight, I forbid it. Otherwise, I might have tried.

I had arranged to take my parents to lunch that day to thank them for helping me through my post surgical recovery (who knew how much more of that they would do). Anyway, as I was spending more and more time in the ortho's office I called my dad and asked them to wait for me that I had to talk to them. I called my best friend on the way to the restaurant, then I crutched my way to their table, my dad stood up, he hugged me, I started to cry, I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, my world was changed, I knew it even then. I finally got it out and then my mom started to cry. I don't think that she stopped for a week. A year later, I might hope that that will be the worst moment of my life. At the time it felt like a nightmare. I spent the rest of the day in a fog, talking to people who were slowly hearing the news, trying to deal, but I was a wreck. By the next day, I had focus again. I needed knowledge. I needed to understand what was wrong. I needed help. So, I went to work, I did literature searches. I called my friend at MSKCC and started the road towards going there. I pushed emotion aside and I just did what had to be done.

I have often thought of that transformation that I underwent in the night after I learned I had cancer, I changed from scared and powerless to purposeful and in charge after a few hours of pretending to sleep. In that day, I learned how strong I am, and I learned a lot about what makes me tick. I know that I couldn't have done it any different. I am me, and this story is how I dealt. I would never question how others might deal with similar issues and likewise I don't want to be questioned. I did what I had to do. I did it with the help of my family and friends. I remain so grateful to those who helped and saved my sanity along the way, but alas this was my road to travel and I did it as best as I could.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Numb Foot

I have become obsessed with exercise of late. I make sure to work out at least 5 days a week and more often 6. It is a mixture of cardio and resistance training plus my PT, which I now no longer have to do for a month. I have lost over 25 pounds since I was allowed to start exercising back in June and I am proud of my progress. An aside here- for the first time ever in my life losing weight is now treated with suspicion. When I saw my doctor in October and they saw the then 20 pound weight loss, I was questioned quite seriously about whether or not it was on purpose and did I really think that it was proportional to how much I was exercising. This line of questioning has been repeated many more times of late- Nice. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled post. So, as of late October I was allowed to start bumping up my cardio and start running and doing more and more on the elliptical and guess what. I am now being foiled by Lefty as he without fail goes completely numb after about 15 minutes. This has prompted another series of calls to my team as affectionately think of them- the PT, ortho onc, and foot and ankle ortho guy. Yikes. So far there is no consensus except to stop what I am doing once my foot goes numb. Harrrummph

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One Holiday at a Time

Every year it seems that the shopping world tries to start the Christmas season earlier and earlier. You used to hear retail people complain when Thanksgiving was late in November because it meant that there were fewer shopping days before Christmas. This Thanksgiving is as early as it can possibly be, but now it seems that the mass retail world has decided to ignore Thanksgiving all together in order to try to lure everyone into the stores to spend for Christmas. Why would they want to ignore one of the few truly American holidays. One of the only holidays that just celebrates our American history, family, friends and all of our countless blessings. I just don't get it.

I started thinking about this over the weekend because Friday night i went to my favorite outdoor mall which has fabulous restaurants, a comfortable movie theater and lots of cool stores. The Christmas tree was up, the walkways all decorated for Christmas, they were staging their Christmas tree lighting event for last Saturday (ie the Saturday before Thanksgiving). There was one notable exception- Nordstrom's. Nordstroms was decorated for fall/ THanksgiving, with fall leaves, turkeys, gourds etc. THey even had a sign on their door that I wish I had pulled out my cell phone to photograph. It simply read


Here, here I thought. My hat is off to Nordstroms.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I thought this day would never come!!

I started physical therapy in July 2006. My ortho and PT both wanted me to work on my core strength in preparation for my surgery and we thought it might help my back pain. Thus I started working with my friendly PT, Jonathan. Who knew how long I would be working with him, but who knew a lot of things. In the last year and a half I have taken a couple of breaks from PT (ie. for my surgeries in New York, when radiation kicked my tail etc.) but pretty much I have been there twice a week for a year and a half. These people have become friends; Jonathan a good friend, coach and cheerleader. I have complained about the exercises that he has me do and how much they hurt, but the results are obvious. Last week he had me doing lunges while standing on a dynadisc ( a sort of flat, non- slippery ball kind of thing). My personal trainer declared that my balance must be awesome if I could do that, and yes my balance is pretty darn good now. So, alas here we have arrived at the point where all good things must come to an end. We have decided to space out my last few appointments so we can see how I do with my home routine etc. So, next week for the first time in 6 months I don't have a PT appt. I can hardly believe it. What will I do with the time? While I am so happy that this means I am better and stronger all of which is good. I really well miss them. So long for now. Thanks for all your help.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I spoke too soon

So, a short 6 hours after I wrote my last post and I am resting on the couch icing Lefty. I went to PT this afternoon and promptly declared to my trusty PT that he would finally get his wish of examining my ankle when it was tired due to the aforementioned packing activities. So onward we went with the usual PT events and he began the not fun scar massage during which he declared that my ankle was extrememly tight. Um, I think I told him that, but apparently it was really stiff. The patient after me noshowed, so I got the fun of a full hours worth of scar massage/ desentization. Then to top it all off when he heard that I had more packing and box carrying to do, we decided that I shouldn't do my exercises. Yikes. What is PT without my hour plus of serious resistance craziness on wobble shoes. So, while Lefty is doing his job helping me get ready for the remodel- Normal it is not.


My kitchen is falling apart and has been pretty much since I moved in. Remember those projects I spoke of before that were too big for me to do alone- well this is the big one. My gas range requires a flame thrower to light, my oven is circa 1975 and my microwave is the kind that you are afraid to stand in front of because of the fear of radiation exposure and thank you very much I have had enough radiation this year. Plus, my cabinets are falling apart. So, the kitchen is being torn apart and rebuilt, and on the order of while there is a work crew in your house you might as well replace the flooring, fix the lighting etc.... You get the point.
So, for the past four days I have been packing up all of my belongings and storing them in the guest room, which is the only room in my house that will have no work done in this first phase. That is four days of boxing things up and carrying most of it upstairs to the guest room. Yikes, It is a good thing that Lefty is getting strong again because this has been no joke. Oh yeah, and becuase of all of the work I am moving back to my parents house while they go on vacation. SO, pack, pack, pack like a little worker bee I go.

I am excited about having this work done, but at the same time it is so overwhleming. When I go into those big home improvement stores to buy things I have to fight the urge to vomit. Yet, still I was so happy last night thinking that it was the last night I would have to pull out my trusty flame thrower to boil water. It will be worth it, right?