Saturday, 12 January 2013

Guest Post by Ashley Blair Doyle


Keeping Track: My Crazy 2012

I was going to make this post about all the things I learned this year, major milestones and a list of what I am grateful for. But writing that out is somewhat of a daunting task for me because it requires actual thinking…and lately I have been so tired I haven't much energy to form meaningful sentences. Plus it would also entail some heavy duty reflection... and let's be honest, we all know 2012 was mostly one big nightmare.

Yep I learned A LOT in 2012 but I just don't have it in me to hash the year out in the form of 'take homes' and lessons. Read: 2012 pretty much kicked my ass.

Even though it was filled with many hurdles there were good things that happened too…
March 5th Mike and I secured 10 frozen babes for a possible future family. Shortly after that we got engaged in Tofino. In late April we put an offer on a house and moved into our first home by the end of June. And in October we made a celebratory "treatment is done" trip down to the happiest place on earth.

No it wasn't all bad. But the year 2012 sure did turn my world upside down and back a few times over. I can pretty much say that I will not miss this time in my life, although I know I will never forget it either.

I am ready for 2012 to be complete and I want to be able to look forward. However, saying that I am moving on is also an easy statement that I just can't confidently make right now. I haven't quite gotten there yet. I am still processing what happened to me and adjusting to this 'new normal' life that everyone warned me about.

So with 2013 a little more than 24 hours away I am both glad and nervous for this year to end. Glad because I can now say that I survived the scariest most traumatic year of my life. And nervous because I have no clue what 2013 will have in store for me. I can only hope that it will be dull and uneventful in the health/medical department!

So being the crazy list person that I am, I kept tabs and compiled a bunch of personal stats for the most life-altering year of my life. This was done gradually and purely for my own satisfaction and sense of closure to what kind of nonsense I had to endure. (Although some of it was because of insurance and tax purposes)

Do not feel you need to continue reading beyond this point… It really is just for me to look back on and be able to say "Holy shit, I fricking did all that."

Without further ado, here are some of my highlights of 2012:

• 2.8" cancerous tumour (invasive ductal carcinoma)
• Stage 2b, Grade 3, Estrogen+ 8/8, Progesterone 6/8, HER2- (minor DCIS with grade 2 nuclei)
• .4mm of cancer in ONE of 12 lymph nodes after an axillary dissection

• ONE scary claustrophobic MRI
• ONE mastectomy
• ONE axillary dissection
• ONE uncomfortable implant with Alloderm
• ONE post-surgery drain (luckily removed 7 days after surgery)
• ONE breast reduction
• ONE colonoscopy
• ONE clean CT brain scan
• ONE echo-cardiogram
• ONE in-person support group attended
• ONE hereditary breast cancer gene testing (results to come in 2013)
• ONE engagement :)
• ONE home purchase :)
• TWO biopsies confirming cancer
• TWO clean bone scans
• TWO clean pelvic and abdominal ultra sounds
• TWO mammograms (one clean! one not. duh.)
• TWO CT chest scans
• TWO dentist visits
• TWO fluid filled cysts (right side as result of surgery)
• TWO mini holidays :)
• THREE breast ultra sounds
• THREE tattoos for radiation accuracy
• THREE breast cancer studies I am participating in
• THREE hair cuts
• THREE wigs
• FOUR therapy/counselling sessions
• FOUR different roommates at the Cancer Lodge
• FOUR Emotional Freedom Technique classes attended at Inspire Health
• FIVE chest x-rays
• FIVE online Cancer Chat Canada support group sessions (5 more left in 2013)
• SIX weeks living at the Jean C Barber Cancer Lodge in Van
• SIX months sans my monthly visitor (It has since returned!)
• SEVEN different home care nurses
• EIGHT Ativan to calm me down
• NINE different physicians/surgeons
• TEN sessions of physio
• TEN different head coverings to cover up the baldness

• ONE hCG trigger tummy shot to promote maturation of eggs (In Vitro fun!)
• SIX Cetrotide Antagonist tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• EIGHT internal ultra sounds
• NINE Gonal F tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• NINE Menopur tummy shots (In Vitro egg making)
• 18 eggs harvested
• 14 eggs successfully fertilized
• 10 embryos successfully preserved :)
• 30 Letrozole pills (anti-estrogen following egg harvest)

• TWO visits to the emergency room
• TWO bottles of Nystatin to treat thrush
• FOUR rounds of Adriamycin/Doxorubicin a.k.a The Red Devil
• FOUR rounds of Cyclophosphamide
• FOUR rounds of Paclitaxel/Taxol
• FOUR "Harpoon" Zoladex/Goserelin tummy injections
• EIGHT rounds of chemo in total
• EIGHT 8mg of Ondansetron pills (anti-nausea pre-chemo medication)
• EIGHT 12 mg. Dexamethasone pills (pre-chemo anti-nausea steroid that made me nutters)
• EIGHT 120 mg. Emend pills (anti-nausea pre-chemo medication)
• TEN 80 mg. Emend pills (post-chemo anti-nausea)
• 30 - 10 mg. Stematil pills (post-chemo anti-nausea)
• 32 - 4 mg. Dexamethasone pills (post-chemo anti-nausea steroid that made me nutters)
• 60 - 50 mg. Gravol pills
• 64 Neupogen tummy injections

• 28 radiation treatments
• 50 gm bottle of Flamazine for skin burning
• 50 gm bottle of Hydrocortisone Acetate for skin burning
• 5.9 right / 88.9 / 94.6 coordinates for rads targets (these numbers: forever engraved in my mind!)
• 4080 cGy units (rads dose to the anterior supra-clavicle area)
• 5040 cGy units (rads dose to the chest)

• 1.3" fibroadenoma (benign tumour next to the bad one)
• 12 Zantac pills
• 12 lymph nodes removed
• 14-16 Intravenous lines (stupid chemo has rendered my right hand veins useless)
• 15 weeks of employment insurance
• 25 pounds lost
• 26-30 blood/lab tests
• 28 Cloxacillin pills (anti-biotic for infection in August on the "good" boob)
• 60 Tamoxifen pills taken (Only 1,765 to go…)
• 64+ ferry trips
• 81 Get Well cards and well wishing snail mails :)
• 4,390 km driven for medical related travel
• $4,800 in Zoladex injections (thank you benefit plan!)
• $12,800 in Neupogen injections (thank you PharmaCare!)

• 32 blog posts
• Too many oncologist, doctor and surgeon appointments to bother tallying up
• ONE insane crazy wild roller coaster ride of a year

So long 2012! I am done with you.

Ashley Blair Doyle can be found at:


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