Updates on Kathy's battle with breast cancer.

Friday, December 14, 2012


These past 2 weeks I’ve had doctors appointments with the oncologist (the cancer doctor that does chemotherapy and meds for long term prevention) and the radiation oncologist (3 visits).  I start radiation on Monday, and will every weekday for the next 6 weeks except Christmas Day and New Years Day.  I will make one of those days up by going twice the day after Christmas or New Years (it has to be 6 hours apart, and I can only double up for one of those missed days—more than that would be exposure to too much radiation).   

Things are going well.  I feel like I’m at 75-80% of my previous energy levels, but it’s hard to tell for sure.  I’m feeling the best I’ve felt since this all started in May!  It’s been a welcome few weeks off!  My surgery has healed well.  I’m amazed at the range of motion for my arm.  After surgery, it was hard to imagine ever being able to raise a straight arm up to the side of my head.  I can now put my arms straight out in front and then raise them up totally over my head, though it still hurts a bit until I’ve stretched it several times.  I can do the same thing starting with my arm out to the side.  My hair is growing back at a rapid rate now, but I have a Cruella Deville stripe that has to go before I toss the wig, plus it’s still pretty thin on top.  My nails are like the rings of a tree trunk.  You can look at them and literally see the passage of time—the chemo part of my nails gradually being pushed out by the new healthier nail.  I’ll post a photo.  I can run for a mile without stopping, then walk for a bit, and run some more.  My walking/running friend Denise has been so helpful, consistent, and patient.  We go at 6:10 a.m., and some days it looks so cold out, and so warm inside, that I choose the lazy warm bed and opt for going with Joey the dog once it’s warmed up a bit.    

Radiation machine, tilted on its side.

CAT scan machine for 3D imaging in radiation prep.

Chemo damage growing out from nails.

I’ve been learning so much about radiation and ways to lessen side effects.  In the past, they would use small tattoo type markings for lining up the machine.  I had been trying to decide what I wanted those tattoos to be—a flower, “Scott,”…. Since it was a medical necessity to have the tattoo.  But, now, they don’t do tattoos.  Instead, I’m all marked up with a paint pen.  They touch up the markings each time I go in, and they used a green pen to stay with the holiday spirit.  If the tattoos were anywhere near the size of the paint pen marks I could have chosen both flowers AND Scott as the designs! 

There are a lot of foods, vitamins, and products I need to avoid, and there are also things I need use on my skin or eat/swallow.  In the Word of Wisdom, which is the health code Mormons live by, we are taught not to drink tobacco, coffee, or tea.  It says tobacco is an herb that can be used to heal bruises.  My doctor, who is not Mormon and probably hasn’t read about this health code, is involved with a group doing a study on green tea, and how using a fresh green tea spray—sprayed on clean skin before radiation (after radiation I apply a prescription cream and let it soak in), after arriving back home, (I again spray the entire quadrant and let it dry before putting clothes over it) and then again 2 more times each day (4 total), reduces reddening and blistering of the skin during radiation.  I purchased a Costco box of 100 packets of green tea, for spraying, not drinking.  Every evening, I will make a fresh batch of concentrated green tea using 2 tea bags to 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of water.    I’ve never made tea before, so hopefully it’s easy to figure out.  Each morning, I’ll refill my spray bottle with the fresh batch, to use for that day.  (I thoroughly clean a Bath & Body Works spray bottle--it makes a very fine mist).  

Another thing they’ve found that helps reduce side effects is Turmeric.  In studies, they found that women from India had less reactions to their skin.  They first researched Curry, which is made up of multiple spices/herbs, and then narrowed it down to Turmeric.  So, I take a capsule of Turmeric each day, and also a Vitamin B-50 (making sure it does NOT have vitamin C, which I need to avoid).  I can’t take multi-vitamins during radiation.  So, those are some of the new things I’ve learned recently.  

It was so nice having my mom here for 3 weeks.  She worked like crazy and had to have been exhausted when she returned home.  She went through many of my drawers, cabinets, and pantry, organizing things and making everything look better.  She also spoiled by making Scott’s favorite cake—Oatmeal cake (recipe at the end, if anyone’s interested), and healthy meals that tasted great.  The night before she left, we had our church women’s Christmas dinner at our house.    It was really fun having her here for that, and also helpful having her help on it. At first, they had made other plans for the dinner, not wanting to add any stress; but after telling them how much I loved doing it, they gave in.   Eight women came over the day before and helped set the tables, cover the chairs, tie sashes, and make everything look festive.  The next night, we had 12 men and young men serve dinner to 54 women.  The clean up crew was huge, and it was all put away so quickly.  It was a wonderful night! 

We’re preparing for our college kids to arrive next Wednesday.  As of today, all of the college kids are finished with finals!  I’m trying to finish up Christmas preparations before radiation starts and the kids arrive.  I love this time of year!  I’m so thankful for Jesus Christ.  I’ve grown closer to Him this year.  I have felt His embraces so strongly.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He is there for each of us, waiting for us to reach out to Him.  He’s also counting on us to watch out for each other.  I’m so thankful for and appreciative of the love and kindnesses that have been shown to our family.  We have felt peace through our storms, and joy in the journey.  It is exciting to see the finish line!!  This next 6 weeks will go by really quickly.        

P.S. Here's the Oatmeal Cake Recipe:

Combine & let stand:  
1 1/2 cups hot water  
1 cup dry oatmeal

Cream together:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs

Add the softened oats to creamed mixture, then add:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
(if desired, new add in we loved, 1/2 to 1 cup coconut)

Pour into 9x13 greased pan.  Bake 350 for 25-30 min, until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting (the best part!)

1/2 cup butter
4 Tbsp. canned milk
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup pecans
1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup coconut.

Boil butter, milk, and sugar 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in pecans, dry oatmeal, and coconut.  Pour and spread over warm cake and brown under broiler until golden (watch closely, this happens quickly).  This results in a sort of crunchy yummy topping.



  1. Kathy,
    You are an amazing woman. How glad I am to be in the shadow of your light. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I love and admire you!

  2. Words cannot discribe you!! All the sisters at your Relief Society Dinner are beautiful! I wish I could be there with you. Thank you for your light that shines through the storm! Many prayers and good thoughts sending your way as you finish this adventure :)
    Liz E.