Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pink Glove Dance

Life for the Lustbergs is good right now.  I'm feeling good, and still working to manage my risk factors for a recurrence.  I take my Tamoxifen every day, which they say is the best thing I can do to lower my risks.  I'm still dealing with menopause, so look forward to helping all my friends handle it in about 20 years.  They aren't joking when they say your body changes and pounds just seem to appear overnight!  But, I've battled cancer... I can battle a few extra pounds, too.  I had an MRI on October 1 and it came back clear, so we have headed into the holidays thankful and happy!

And here is a little happy dance I saw online that you might enjoy!
Pink Glove Dance

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Click to Give

You've heard me mention before how blessed I am that I have good insurance.  Many, MANY women are not as fortunate as me, so don't seek mammograms out when they should.  Please take a quick second and bookmark this link.  Every time you click on the button on this page, the sponsors give some money to support mammograms for those who can't afford it.  You don't even have to give them your email address or sign up for anything.

Bookmark it, put it on your toolbar, and every day when you see it, give it a click.  It takes 10 seconds of your time, costs you nothing, and can only help others.  Consider it your daily dose of contributing to your good karma.  Thanks!

Click to Give

Friday, August 28, 2009

YWBCP Survivor Symposium

There is a wonderful group here in STL called the Young Women's Breast Cancer Program, for women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age (under 40 or 45).  Here is information about this year's FREE day-long symposium.  If anyone knows any survivors who were diagnosed at a young age (regardless of their age now), please share!  I went last year and it was really good.  I'll be there again this year, too.  It's a great chance to talk about issues that sometimes only other survivors can understand, and to be surrounded by some of the happiest, most grateful people on the planet.

Symposium Info

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Walk

We did the Komen Walk in STL again this year. Nice to be doing it this year with hair, as last year I had just lost all my hair the week before the walk. Nice to be going through as a SURVIVOR. The night before the walk, I had some fun taking a Sharpee to the back of my t-shirt.

At the end, we met up with my friend from college, Beth, and her family. Her daughter, Riley, is about a year older than Rory, and as you can see by the pictures, it's just a shame the two of them didn't hit it off. Click below to see the slideshow of pictures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Sink is Shining

I don't know how many of you have heard of FlyLady, but in the world of house cleaning and organization, she's a goddess! Her basic philosophy is that if you start with a clean and shining sink, then MAINTAINING cleanliness just takes a little time each day. Her focus is on keeping your sink shining.

Today, my sink is shining! Not at my house, but within. Today I had my annual mammogram on both sides, and everything is normal! I've never been so happy to be "normal" in my life! So, I feel like my sink is shining and now I can really focus on doing all the little things every day that can help keep it that way, like walking, limiting alcohol, eating well, etc. FlyLady would be proud!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Unexpected Second Wave

While going through treatment, I just kept Dec 23 in mind, knowing it would all be done. What I didn't realize is that there would be this second wave of things to deal with, like an aftershock following an earthquake. The aftershock is two things: 1) trying to find your "new normal", a very common post-cancer phrase, and 2) dealing with the effects of treatment.

Right now the biggest tremor for me is menopause. Though I've been in menopause since my first chemo in September, the symptoms of menopause seem to have gotten worse recently. So, I'm trying to figure all that out. Most menopausal women start taking hormones like estrogen, but I can't take them, so I have to figure out how to deal with it other ways. Hot flashes, mood swings, sleeplessness, and other "girl issues" are awful to deal with every day and there just isn't a lot of standard wisdom out there about what is helpful.

Also, there isn't a lot of help from doctors in this arena. They get you through treatment, but some of these after-effects aren't their specialization, so it's hard to find assistance. But, I'm still searching, doing a lot of online research, and talking to any docs who may have suggestions.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Lymphedema. A complicated thing. It's basically fluid retention in a body part. Because of all the trauma to this one section of my body (trauma, meaning lymph node dissection surgery and radiation), I will be at risk for lymphedema in my upper left quadrant forever. So far, I've had only minor issues, but getting help to PREVENT lymphedema has been more complicated than it should be. However, through lots of phone calls and nagging, I've gotten a few physical therapy appointments. They are helping me loosen up my left shoulder's range of motion a bit, and also showing me how to handle the fluid retention. Basically I have one breast that is bigger than the other right now, and they say it will probably stay that way for quite a while because of the radiation. I was fitted for a compression sleeve that I will have to wear anytime I exercise or fly in an airplane for the rest of my life. It will help lower the risk of lymphedema during activities that can tend to bring it on. Hopefully I am staying on top of it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big Decisions are Delayed

The test of my estrogen levels came back yesterday and show I'm still "post-menopausal", meaning my ovaries aren't coming back to functioning yet, not producing estrogen. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet. Overall, I think I'm relieved because honestly, we have enough on our plate right now, and having one more big decision to deal with could potentially have pushed me over the edge. Mother Nature has granted me a reprieve, at least for now. The test will be run again in April to see if there is any change. For most women whose ovaries come back to functioning, it happens in the first year after finishing chemo, which was September for me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hair Update

It's coming back! Last night Jason and I were out on a date and a woman came over to our table and told me how much she loved my haircut and how perfect it was on me. Made my day! Funny thing is that right now, as it's growing back, I keep having flashbacks to the last time it was this short, which is when it was starting to fall out. I had cut it before it started to fall out. Even today, as I put some sticky pomade in it, I had this quick flashback as I'm touching my hair, this reflex thought of "Oh, be careful! If you rub too hard it will stick to your fingers!" Then I remember it's not going to fall out. And I admit, I give it a little tug at that point, just for affirmation.

What about babies?

This question seems to fall into one of two categories: either Questions People Don't Want to Ask, or Issues People Don't Know Are Issues At All When It Comes To Cancer. Before all this, for me it would have been the latter. Before this, I had no idea that breast cancer had any affect on your fertility or decisions about having babies in the future.

But it does.

There are two reasons.

1- A good sign the chemo is working is that your ovaries shut down. Mine shut down as soon as I started chemo. What that means is that I was slammed into menopause at 36, hot flashes and all. And it remains to be seen whether they will come back to functioning. At my age, it is unlikely. In this day and age, even this is sometimes a small obstacle if you want to have another baby, since there are ways to get to those hidden little eggs. BUT, this is where the second reason comes into play.

2- Because my cancer is estrogen-fed, getting pregnant raises my risk of a recurrence. When you get pregnant, your body surges with estrogen that your body needs to carry out the pregnancy. It can be done, and women have gone through carefully-monitored pregnancies after cancer and have been ok, but it's not a simple decision.

Though overall I've always said that my age has worked in my favor throughout treatment, this is one area where women who are even younger than me going through this have an advantage. Your risks of a recurrence are highest in the first five years after treatment. Women who wait until after that 5-year period to try to have a baby have better odds. I'm 37. I don't feel I have 5 more years to wait. And even if I did, I can't do that to Jason. I can't imagine the stress it would put into his life every day of a pregnancy, wondering if these kids will be his to raise alone because we felt we just HAD to get pregnant again.

I think this is why Rory has the energy of 3 kids... to let us know that she'll keep us plenty busy for now. We might decide down the road to look into adoption, but right now we are rebuilding our current family. We are house shopping and doing more high-energy things together now that I feel good. We're having more quality time together and enjoying it.

This is not a touchy subject for me, so don't worry about talking about babies, pregnancies, or even about calling me to return my maternity clothes (thanks, friend). It's just one of those things that people don't know is a complication for women in chemo, so I thought I'd share. (story Survive Cancer, Have Baby from Newsweek)