Monday, April 23, 2012


I am severely broken out with shingles on the right side of my face.  Luckily, my eyeball is clear of shingles, which could cause blindness, but the eyelid is shingled & swollen, as is my forehead, temple, nose & that entire side of my upper face.  I went to the opthamologist today.  His advice is "Don't worry, be happy!"  In other words, stress & a suppressed immune system caused my shingles - so I have to try not to worry about the fact that my face is disfigured for several weeks and the pain is excrutiating & I cannot get out in public.  Pain pills don't help because this pain is a "nerve" reaction.

Talking & thinking about this causes me stress, so I decided to copy the notes my daughter made from the doctor today to put on this blog so I don't have to repeat the story over & over via texts, emails, & facebook.

Here are Monica's notes from Dr. Hu:
  • Next month – anti-viral medication (finish ten day supply then start a lower dosage for a month)
  • no narcotics, Tylenol & Advil only
  • Contagious to people that haven't had chicken pox & visible signs of the shingles for several weeks
  • See Dr. Hu in one month
  • Enter phase two – did not mention this phase except for the nerve stabilizer
  • Nerve stabilizer – don’t know what this is yet
  • Even after visible shingles is gone, phantom pain will last forever, could be constant or sporadic
  • Stress will bring it back in the same place & can bring back pain
  • Minimize stress as much as possible
  • Rest, Rest, Rest
  • No exercise if that is tiring or causes stress
  • Vacations, moving, and weddings/pregnancies – the most stressful activities in life
  •  No zantax to help with anxiety or stress – Dr. Hu doesn’t like those, just REST

Daughter reminded mom she was just given a “Get out of an activity –no guilt or sadness – Card.” Just say “no” to all of the activities that cause her stress. Lighten the activities on her daily, weekly, and monthly calendars. Friends and family will understand. If they don’t, have them call Monica.

I will pretty much be "resting" at home the next couple of months.  This disfiguring condition cannot be hidden by clothing if it was on another part of my body - that sucks!  No luncheons, no recitals, no birthday parties, no end of year school programs, no movies, no shopping, no church, no parties, etc., while I heal - physically & mentally.

I am not in much of a mood today to make this a "learning experience" - so google shingles & shingles around the eye to learn more about this terrible condition & this dormant virus left over from the chicken pox that attacks your body.

To make a long story short, I am stressed as to how to reduce stress!  If you find the secret, let me know.  As Dr. Hu said, I could not help the fact that I have had breast cancer & all the treatments that brings or the fact that my sister suddenly died.  But, I'm going to try to figure this all out.....

Prayers needed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Here Starts 5 Years of Arimidex (Anastrozole)!

Starting around the first of April I started taking Arimidex (a-RIM-ih-dex) - chemical name: Anastrozole (an-AS-troe-zole), which I'll be taking for the next 5 years.  Arimidex is a pill taken once a day. Most doctors recommend taking Arimidex at the same time each day. 

Arimidex (chemical name: anastrozole) is an aromatase inhibitor approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat post-menopausal women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive, early-stage breast cancer after surgery (or possibly chemotherapy and radiation) to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back

Aromatase is an enzyme found in various places in the body. These enzymes help produce estrogens (in particular, a certain estrogen called estradiol). In postmenopausal women, most of the estrogen in the body is made by aromatase. By blocking these enzymes, Arimidex helps to decrease the amount of estrogen in the body.
Biomarker tests of my tumor revealed my cancer was estrogen and progesterone positive (ER+/PR+) - which means  those two hormones fuel my type of breast cancer (BC).  Estrogen Receptor positive (ER+) means that estrogen is causing your tumor to grow, and that the cancer should respond well to hormone suppression treatments. In other words, Arimidex is a hormonal treatment that helps fight breast cancer by lowering the amount of the hormone estrogen in the body.

Arimidex is the best drug of choice available for:

* increasing the time before the cancer comes back in those who
   experience recurrence

* reducing the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body

* reducing the risk of a new cancer developing in the other breast

My medical oncologist, Dr. Haley, advised me that the two main side effects I might can expect are hot flashes & joint pain - so I won't worry about the other ones listed.  Any side effects are worth the benefit of keeping the cancer from recurring!  Let the fight continue!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gone, But In My Heart Always. :'(

It is with a heavy heart & eyes that continually fight back a flood of tears that I tell you about the death of my younger sister, Judy Anne Fowler, age 64, on March 24, 2012.  Losing Judy was a shock & heartbreak.  She passed away after a brief hospitalization from complications of cirrhosis of the liver.  She is now rejoicing in heaven with our heavenly Father and our parents - in peace - with no more earthly pain & cares.

Here is her obituary:
Judy Anne Fowler Obituary

I was 5 years old when my sister was born.  My mother let me name her "Judy".  Her middle name, Anne, was after our maternal grandmother.  We were raised in the Church of Christ, where our father was an elder.  Of course, we went to church every Sunday (plus Sunday & Wednesday nights) & after church when we were children, we went to Rockett, TX to have Sunday dinner with our Uncle Sidney & his family & our grandparents.  I'm sure the bluebonnet pic below was after church & on our way to Rockett. 

My brother, George, was born when Judy was 18 months old.  Judy & I shared a bedroom growing up - which led to many sibling disagreements since we were 5 years apart in age & had very different interests.  We became friends as young adults.  I married first & she was the main baby-sitter for my firstborn daughter, along with my parents.  She would become a fun aunt for her & my other two daughters to come. 

My brother George, my sister Judy, & I were all expecting babies at the same time - what a triple joy for our parents.  We all gave birth to girls within about 6 months of each other. 

Judy bought a home in the neighborhood where I lived after our daughters were born & about a year old.  We spent many fun days taking our baby girls out in strollers shopping!  I had blonde (bleached - ha) hair & Judy was a brunette.  My daughter had brunette hair & hers was a blondie.  A stranger asked us one day when we were out why we were pushing each other's babies.  Our children enjoyed playing with each other as cousins growing up, always sharing birthday celebrations.

We shared many Christmas & Thanksgiving dinners at my parents home while they were still alive.  Our mother was an awesome cook - & my sister inherited that special talent - but not me. 

Judy gave up her career with the Food and Drug Administration in Dallas when she had her two precious children.  She devoted her life to them & also took care of other children in her capacity as a Mother's Day Out Director.  She was a great organizer in that capacity & planned many fun, educational activities for all the children in her program.  We even shared a few preschool students.  I taught them in speech therapy at the elementary school in her neighborhood & she taught them in mother's day out.  That was fun.

Judy & I loved eating at our favorite Mexican food restaurant by my parent's home.  For a while we enjoyed their $1.00 margaritas, even though Judy was basically a non-drinker of alcohol.  I have given up my margaritas & wine as I am trying to eliminate a recurrence of breast cancer - & the research proves there is a much less greater chance of recurrence if you do NOT consume alcohol.  I plan to do a post later devoted to just that!

Judy was the main caretaker of our elderly parents during their final years.  She was always there for their needs every day  - as my brother & I were working.  Judy never complained about this.  After our father passed & the time came to put my mother in a nursing home, Judy lovingly fixed up our mother's room with all the touches of home.  She made sure she had a dorm type refrigerator loaded with Dr. Pepper, our mother's favorite soda.  She brought afghans from home, hung pictures, & brought her own chest of drawers from home.  Judy & her son even planted a crape myrtle tree outside Mother's nursing home window.  All the staff  at the nursing home knew & loved Judy - even one of the male patients had a big crush on her & would chase after her in his wheelchair!  He was broken hearted when we moved my mother to a nursing home closer to my sister & he would not be seeing her anymore!

For several years Judy & I enjoyed shopping together.  Sometimes at a half-off store (the guy there had a crush on Judy, too) & a re-sale shop - all near our parents home, Tuesday Morning, & ebay.  We even had similar ebay monikers.

Photos from the past:

Brother George, me, & my sister Judy in the Texas bluebonnets.

Judy was such a natural beauty!

Sister Judy, brother George, & me in my parent's backyard years ago.

I am very grateful to the support of my friends during this time of deep sorrow who have called & sent comforting sympathy cards.  Here are some of the thoughts from their cards that have soothed my pain:

"May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always."

"A person is never truly gone if you keep their memory alive in your heart."

"Come to me and I will give you rest ~ Jesus.  May you sense his tender words being spoken to your heart...I am your God and I will bring you comfort."

"When sadness fills our hearts, sometimes we must believe what we can't  see.  May God show you the way to new hope, peace, and happiness."

"As time passes, little reminders of your loved one will touch your heart...they will always be with you, whatever you do and wherever you go.  For now, may caring thoughts from others help you through."

"When our hearts are hurting from the loss of one we love, the courage that we truly need comes only from above.  But you find some comfort in this time you're going through just knowing many thoughts and prayers are always with you."

"When someone we love so dearly goes home to be with the Lord, we know they're in a better place - but our sorry and pain is still great.  Praying the Lord will hold you especially close and comfort you through the coming days, and that you'll be strengthened by the love of family and friends."

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will  be comforted."  Matthew 5:4  NIV

"I hope God will bring you peace quickly and comfort you with the beautiful memories you two have shared..."

"Hoping prayers might ease your sorrow.  Brighter days will be coming your way, and that time and the prayers of so many who care will lessen your sorrow each day."

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you...Let not your heart be troubled."  John 4:27

"May God's loving hand help heal your sorrow and touch your heart with the peace only He can give."

"Our loved ones leave behind spaces in the world that can never be filled.  But they also leave behind love and light in each of us, sparks of joy and hope that live in our hearts and give strength to your souls"

"When the cares of my heart are many, Your consolations cheer my soul."  Psalm 94:19

"He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."  Psalm 31:24 KIV

"May the God of hope give you rest for your heart...peace for your soul...and a deep sense of comfort from every prayer lifted for you during this time."

"Hope is grief's best music.  It's normal to feel like things will never be good again.  But have hope that tomorrow will be brighter and happier - and you will be strong again."

"May each tear that falls be a gentle reminder that you and your loved one meant so much to each other, and that no loss or sorrow, time or distance can ever take that away."

"The Lord is looking down on you and will give you the strength you need to face the days ahead, the peace you need to quiet your soul, and the comfort you need to carry you through your time of sorrow."

Added 4-6-2012:

"In the midst of things we don't understand - things that leave our hearts broken and questioning...there's a beauty about springtime in the endless ways it reveals God's faithfulness and His promise to make all things new. "

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13 NLT

The Plan of the Master Weaver: 
"Our lives are but fine weavings
That God and we prepare,
Each life comes a fabric planned
And fashioned in His care.
We may not always see just how
The weavings intertwine,
But we must trust the Master's hand
And follow His design,
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While we must look from underneat
And trust in Him to guide...
Sometimes a strand of sorrow
Is added to His plan,
And though it's difficult for us,
We still must understand
That it's He who fills the shuttle,
It's He who knows what's best,
So we must weave in patience
And leave to Him  the rest...
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why~~
The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned."

Thank you dear friends, for these words of comfort from your cards and for your phone calls and emails during this time of grief over the loss of my little sister, Judy.