Skiing in the Shower

Confessions of a Mountain Girl

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(right) Before lumpectomy and 3 radiation treatments. Lumpectomy removed about 4 cubic cms of tissue. The breast was SMALLER than this after lumpectomy.  (left:) after 3 radiation treatments. Instagram removed this post for violating their terms of service. Because cancer is so titillating. Wait. I mean boobilicious. 

I’m a healthy, active ski instructor, yoga instructor, and bodyworker. I have a good diet and am quite fit. I am sensitive to most drugs and have many drug allergies. I ski all day about 170 days a year, both up and downhill, and practice about 3 hours of yoga daily, which I modify depending on my health and intensity of the season.

Early December 2017: Abnormal mammogram, diagnostic mammogram

Dec 19: Ultrasound-assisted vacuum Biopsy confirms cancer Low nuclear grade DCIS.

Dec 21: Back to yoga with breast binding and 2 sports bras, slow practice. A small amount of leakage around nipple incision under steri strips. go to ER after class just to make sure, they think it looks ok.

Dec 25 - 31: Back on snow, 2 sports bras, private booking.

Dec 26: Fall while skiing on right breast on firm snow at moderate speed. Arm up, full brunt to the right breast (of course)

Dec 28: Breast MRI, no further cancer detected

Jan 1-6: the ski trip to Chatter Creek with guests

Jan 9, 2018: Met with the team at Shaw Cancer Center

Jan 17 - 19: exams for PSIA on snow

Jan 22 (approx) genetic testing comes back negative for all 28 genes

Jan 27 - Feb 4 ski camp and private clients on snow

Feb 5 - pre-op

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Feb 6: Mag Seed Placed

Feb 7: Lumpectomy: surgery goes well, no surprises, no complications
Image titleFeb 10: (approx) pathology comes back, it is cancerous, it is not aggressive, it hasn’t left the duct, no lymph involvement. Margins are clean, except anterior margin is only 1mm and due to proximity to the skin surface. 5 weeks of daily radiation (except weekends) prescribed.

Feb 19: Evening ski in some good pow finally!

Feb 20: CT scan and cradle build at Shaw Wanna see a video of the radiation machine? It's pretty awesome: it's on my Insta.

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Feb 24: back on snow: exam training for candidate

Feb 26: Three steroidal facet injections for pain in back and hip because of compromised discs in L2/3/4, flying in the morning.

Feb 27 - March 12: fly to Europe, ski camp for clients. Breast still tender, sore, painful and some swelling from lumpectomy but energy is good. 

March 12: fly home. big trip, hard work, almost miss seeing my kids. stressed to see them.

March 13: Drive to shaw, first set up for radiation, no beam today, 3-hour yoga practice resumes. Fondue indulgence regrets visit momentarily. (this photo is before radiation)

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March 14: Radiation Begins, 3-hour practice after class. Breast is tender, red, I use the cream for burns they give me. I’m a little nauseous and a little tired, but not too bad. I assume I should be burned, tired and nauseous as I've heard this can happen and I'm Side Effect Girl. Plus, I assume this is why they have me staying at Jack's place and gave me the cream.

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March 15: Feel good in the morning, 3-hour practice, radiation. Breast is sore, red, the nipple is angry, swelling increases, I’m nauseous and tired. Throat begins to feel tight and like its constricting, but not sore like sick. Upper chest feels heavy, constricted. I ask again about practice, should be ok. Wonder later in the evening if I should go to ER. 

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March 16: Feel good in the morning (but sleeping 10 hours a night, cannot stomach sleep because of pain in the breast. Pain spreads to right armpit. 3-hour practice, radiation after, no chest or throat issues. Super tired right after, sore, swollen, painful to wear a bra. I drive home as it’s Friday. 2 1/2 hour drive back home. By the time I’m home, I’m exhausted and nauseous. I call my cancer buddy. He thinks I might have a cold and it probably doesn’t have anything to do with radiation because I’ve only had 3 treatments. (And people don't get sick like this from radiation this fast, and half my group was sick in Switzerland).

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March 17: 90-minute practice, completely ass kicked after. Tired, cranky, in pain, swollen, hot/cold, armpit hurts, red sunburn feeling on nipple and breast. Continue using cream. Rest on the couch for the rest of the day. Rally for dinner with clients. Feels good to connect, but exhausted. 

March 18: OK in the morning but not awesome. Leave practice after 45 minutes, dizzy, nauseous. Spend a half hour crying in the shower at the studio, feel much better after. I figure it’s the radiation load after 3 treatments, I have read you can get a sunburn and feel tired. Did not realize this was after 6 weeks of treatment, not immediately. On the couch all day, chest and neck kicking in again, hot/cold.

March 19: Good in the morning, assuming radiation load is easing. 3-hour practice, much more strong, present, happy. Breast still is swollen, sore, angry. Armpit hurts. Nipple hurts, sports bra hurts. Drive back to Shaw for resumption of treatment.
Image titleMention to radiation tech that my breast hurts and is red. She looks at it and suspends tx, asks me to see Radiation Oncologist first. Oncologist comes in, is alarmed. A clear delineated line of radiation field worries her. Color of nipple and amount of swelling is not good. No radiation today, come back in the morning to meet with surgeon and oncologist again. Throat and neck and chest v. bad this evening. Still feeling nauseous and tired in evening. Rally for dinner by myself, bed early. 10 hours of painful sleep. Wonder about going to ER. Wonder if I am going septic. Hot and cold chills. 

March 20: No practice. Met with Radiation Oncologist and surgeon. Both are alarmed with color, swelling, symptoms. Bugs don't draw straight lines, so I have radiation field burns. But all the other symptoms say infection.  Ultrasound-guided biopsy to draw off fluid. 6cc s of dark yellow but clear fluid pulled off, bringing swelling down. Breast V. painful, as is the whole area. Hot/cold continues. They send me home to Aspen on oral Keflex and wait for lab results, suspend radiation treatment.
Image titleMarch 20, I drive home after meeting with docs and rest. Throat and chest become concerning. by 6 pm, Radiation oncologist calls to check on me and sends me to the ER due to breathing. Suspend oral Keflex, IV antibiotics every 12 hours, oral steroid every 12 hours. X rays of neck and chest soft tissue show no constriction. The episode of constriction occurs while with ER doc, she gives me valium for it thinking muscle spasm, after about an hour it chills out. Discharge with IV in arm and go home for sleep.

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March 21, wake up feeing better after 12 hours of sleep, go to ER, get IV antibiotics and oral steroid. Head home, no practice of course because of recent draw off of fluid. Hydrating and resting. Some but not all labs come back, high white blood cells in fluid, but not too high. (went from 9 to 13) Waiting for further analysis. Start to feel like crap again around 3. Nauseous by 4. Throat and chest begin around 5 big time. Actually looking forward to going in for next dose of antibiotics. Breast still hurts esp lateral side and armpit, but is not as painful or hot to the touch. Redness from radiation diminishing. Feel fluish.

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Went into ER at 8, IV antibiotics, oral steroid, torodol, valium. Flushed, fever. 99.4 (my temp is 97.4 normally so that's high for me) flushed in face and neck. Discharged with big improvement in pain and swelling. Slept 12 hours

March 22, wake up feeling really good. Breast still hurts but not as much, radiation mark going down, armpit hurts but not too much. Throat tight but not as bad. Still flushed. Moved onto oral antibiotics, continuing oral steroid. Nothing topical to be applied at all. Spoke to my Radiation Oncologist, who took my case to the RO board yesterday, I will go in and see her at Shaw tomorrow for re-eval. Tom and I go out to the movies and dinner and it feels good to get out. Edible weed for nausea, 10 mg valium for chest and throat after 3. Start to go downhill at 3pm, feel horrible by 5, take meds, feel better.

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March 23, wake up feeling much better, pain reduced in breast all over, nipple still very sore, medial lower breast painful, armpit less painful, chest, throat and cheeks flushing, throat and chest tight but not as bad. Swelling reducing. Continuing oral antibiotics and steroid. Headed over to Shaw for check up.

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Right now, I'm on BIG rest for a week (not quite bed rest but UUUGH), and we will watch and see. Seems to be trending in the right direction. Once it clears up in a week or two, we will start radiation again and see how I react to it with a close watch.

Depending on that outcome, we will make a plan.

March 23, visit with Docs in Shaw. They are happy with progress. Considering Radiation Recall as a possible reason for reaction. Cleared to do yoga but not to ski (no falling). Felt good all day, moved out of Jack's place (lost my studio wahhhh), started to feel nauseous, throat, chest, sore breast around 3 pm

March 24 woke up feeling great. Home full primary practice, felt really good.  Throat and chest feeling tight and icky after practice. Dizzy and nauseous at 2pm. Walked around ranch looking for studio space, back on the couch, thank god for the Red Sox. Medicated for the rest of the day on the couch, tight sore throat, breathing, fatigue, big nausea.

March 25: woke up feeling throat choked. wondered if moist heat would help. Went to studio with plan to sit in the back of the room and just breathe and journal. Started the standing series, immediately sat down as i became dizzy and throat choked. Left class, showered, straight to the ER. They checked me for clotting (after five sticks ow), and found me positive. CT scan for chest and throat. Nothing clotting coming toward brain, lung or heart. Extreme pain in neck, radiating down left shoulder under collar bone, felt like I'd been punched in the throat on the left side. Scary. Ruled out Lumier's disease. Kept me on saline, steroid, and pain killers. Discharged me without a clue, but at least not in imminent danger of croaking.

March 26: long night of waking up to take antibiotics and new medpack oral steroid. slept in. Spent the morning unhappy and in pain neck and chest, like I'd been strangled the day before. Pain moving to right side. Did nothing, slept, realized I needed help with the boys who are wasting their lives on the computer while I sit on the couch trying not to complain. Ate my weight in sugar. (By the way, sugar is not good for cancer). Natasha came over and made me laugh, fell asleep in the arms of help and compassion watching Netflix, tomorrow is another day, in for another long night of alarms for meds. Hope I don't clot in the night for some reason. Emailed my friends to ask for help with boys, not sure what they will come up with, but i feel like a bad mom at the moment.

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March 27: Woke up at 7 feeling rested and strong in spite of taking meds all night (steroid, antibiotic, steroid, antibiotic...) took myself into class, enjoyed a modified 90 minutes of bliss, rolled out of there, downed my water jug, took myself home, and with tom's encouragement, looked at the clock. I had two hours before I knew i'd start feeling crappy. The boys and I rearranged a corner of the living room so TOMORROW when I feel good, I can keep working on some of the integrated story telling projects I started while I was at shaw. Got it almost done before  time to surrender to the couch. Valium at 3 pm, no weed for nausea, it made me crave Jenny's chocolate graham cracker coconut evilness too much. Throat constricted, chest sore, breast sore lateral lower and nipple, but feel pretty good considering.  Liat will arrive tomorrow, making our tiny house even tinier, but thank god she will take them outside. On the couch ass kicked but ok from 3-8, chest and neck relived by valium. Still on oral antibiotics and tapering off steroids. Still sleeping in a sports bra, trying to keep that lumpectomy site together so no more fluid pools in it. Nipple sore, outer lower breast sore at bed.

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March 28: Woke up tired but healthy feeling, I think waking up to take the antibiotics has been a bit disruptive but ok. Hauled my ass out of bed at 8:31 and was in the car at 8:33. I was late to class but it was  SO worth it. I never know if I will sit in the back and watch, practice a bit and leave early, modify a longer practice to be super gentle, just join the class, or get after it. I can never really tell that when I'm healthy either, I just have to show up on my mat with no expectations and see what happens. Most of the time its the opposite of what I expect, so I just finally stopped guessing. Today was amazing. Natasha taught a beautifully orchestrated class, and for some reason my body was into it and I felt strong and happy. Alternately laughing and crying through class, I really enjoyed myself, and had the first sort of vigorous practice in a while. Was pretty tired after, headed home to my new art studio in the living room and walked around it in happiness for a while. My pajama ridden children cleaned their room and gave me hugs and eagerly anticipated the arrival of my awesome little sister who is WAY more fun than I am right now. Well, in general, but especially right now. Natasha came over with food, i checked into the Hyperbaric Chamber situation here in Aspen to see if that could speed healing, I bit the bullet and put up a go fund me campaign.

By 1pm my throat was constricting and some chest pain was happening, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. My nipple is sore still around the incision, my outer lower breast also still sore, but no swelling or increased pain from practice. Nipple still feels like I have a sunburn.

Threw all the sugar away in the house yesterday and had a much happier emotional day today, it is so hard to be surrounded by unhealthy food and no way to escape it. Hoping I'll be healed enough to start radiation again on the 2nd, but I can still see the burn, we still have the mystery throat/chest thing, still have fatigue and general ick, no more fever though.

Liat is here, and I am so relieved. I need those boys out of the house and doing something creative with their lives. I feel like a terrible parent watching them play video  games from the couch. Today, Ethan mentioned that he missed his fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Shenck, who died of cancer when he was in fifth grade. This is hard and scary for them and I'm being too intense about them doing their chores and not being emo. Im so glad Liat came. Here's the daily boobie shot:

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March 29:
Woke up sore but feeling strong. Went to class, had a good strong class, lots of work on hands, no swelling no pain in breast. After, nipple sore but outer breast feeling better. No fever, no chills. Throat tight and chest tight begin around 11am. Avoid meds till 3pm when chest and throat also begin to throb as well as feel constricted. Valium for constriction. Amazing Natasha brings more soup, about $1800 is contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, this is going to help us pay our rent since I have not worked much this year and help us pay Liat back for her ticket and to feed her while she's here. It is MASSIVELY stress relieving to have her here.

On a side note i'm getting sick at looking of photos of my lopsided boobs, although, there they are, and they've been pretty rad for me so far, so I'm not going to complain.

I over-scheduled myself a bit this weekend because i'm feeling better slowly and some wonderful things are lining up which feel like gifts from cancer, and Ive gotta follow what's out there... and stay balanced in rest and healing.

Im supposed to start radiation again on Monday. I'm honestly scared. I'm totally willing and I no we will learn a lot, but man oh man. I'm just now starting to feel like a human again.

But... I may have found an incredible creative space to work in, large, open, and able to contain the five projects that I'm obsessively sketchng and writing about and waiting for space to magically appear to produce.. Just the possibility made me so excited that I finally unpacked my bags from Shaw and organized my closet. That may seem insane, but for a person who has been moving not just ski stuff and city clothes but also an entire art and writing studio back and forth from home to the cancer center and on the couple of amazing trips we DID get to take with our ski guests this year, it was a big deal.

Of course, we get to pack it all up on Monday and move it back to shaw again!

Today's Pic March 29 end of day:

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March 30: Big day planned, we'll see how it goes. I'm back to coaching clients on line, that was great. Sheena at European Skin Treatments had me come in for a facial, which was soooo sweet and lovely. Headed to yoga at noon, although throat started to feel constricted around 11:30 as usual now.  Class was rough. Took it easy. Unhealthy quick sandwich after, not the best choice, but food so... headed to Alya for a run through of Writ Large story, v. low key at her house, but tired, spacey, stupid, can't keep the thread. Headed to KDNK for an on-air interview at 3:30 about writ large, felt like I came alive on air and then wanted to crawl into my car and sleep after. Nurse called from Shaw, stop oral antibiotics. Had finished last steroid this morning, 8 antibiotics left, had already taken 2 today. Drove home at 5, tried to be social on the couch, felt horrible, went to bed and fell asleep listening to opening day of the Red Sox. Woke up 15 hours later to find out they'd lost. No photo today. Valium when throat and chest woke me up around 10pm otherwise slept thru

March 31 woke up at 9:30 am, felt strong and healthy, sore nipple, sore outer lower breast, not too bad. 20 minute home practice. Went with the family to watch the Met Live in HD Cosi Fan Tutte, which I love but UGH the story in the second half. Grrr Mozart. But yay Bodhi for coming and enjoying. Despnia was amazing. Tom is sick. 12:30 throat and chest, don't take anything. Tired by 4 (that's improving), get home, Tom in bed, sick sick and sleeping. 5:40 hoping the Red Sox and some painting can distract me from throat and chest and creeeping tiredness. Two days till we try radiation again.

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