The sun and sand of California is a beautiful and healing backdrop when you are battling cancer. The views are amazing and the weather can’t be beat.
I’ve been so incredibly blessed to have been given this opportunity these past few months. I have a job I love with the most amazing co-workers. I live in a beautiful cottage in La Mesa with some really great landlords. And the medical care I have had here has been so terrific. In many ways it is like this was meant to be.
I’m a little stressed out today thinking about tomorrow and the radiation sim appointment so I figured I would distract myself from that by sharing a glimpse of the life I live here in sunny SoCal and the trip it took to get here.
The last week of August was a flurry of packing and honestly it didn’t really sink in that I was leaving until the last morning as I loaded my car up. I’ve never lived alone, let alone over 1,500 miles away from any family or friends. As I finished packing up it finally hit home, and I’m not going to lie, I almost changed my mind.
I left Atchison around 9:00am Central time. My original plan was to stop somewhere in New Mexico to sleep for the night, but as I got to Albuqueque, New Mexico at 9:30pm I decided to push on as long as I could in hopes I could make it to my baby sister’s place so I could spend an entire day with her, my brother-in-law Thom and niece Joslynn instead of just a few hours. It was a crazy long day but I pulled up to their place around 2:00am Arizona time (4:00am Atchison time for the record).
My sister was staying in Williams, Arizona when I traveled through. What a cute little town that really is! It is on historic US Route 66, and there are so many little shops and places to see. The show they were working was a fun place with lots of things to see and I ran into a guy that was from Kansas City. He was quite the talker and we chatted quite a bit about the Kansas City Chiefs and the terrific barbecue to eat there. Each night the Cataract Creek Gang has a gunfight downtown and I got to catch the end of the show with the girls.
Saying goodbye was hard, but I pulled away Sunday morning for the final leg of my trip. It was another long day, but hey, I got to drive behind the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile for about 100 miles so I guess you could say it was eventful. (Insert crazy laugh here!)
When I finally made it to the beautiful city I was excited. I finally made it to the Mount Helix neighborhood where I was going to live for my contract and was amazed at how stunning the views were. When I pulled up my landlords were waiting and they were really such a great couple. They even helped me unload my car and bring things up to the cottage for me.
I had only seen the cottage in photos so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was so surprised when I got inside. It really is the cutest little place and I can’t believe what a great deal I got. Completely furnished and all my utilities included for a super low price. It honestly has been such as relaxing place to call my own these past three months.
It is hard to believe I am so close to the center of the city here. It is so quiet except for the sounds of the owls who-ing and the coyotes that wander through the yard. One night when I was in bed watching TV before I went to sleep I heard a lapping sound outside. I went to my door to see two coyotes drinking from the bird bath and they scampered away when I turned the light on.
I have a sliding glass door in my bedroom and one in my living room that I keep open most of the time I am at home and the gentle breeze feels great. It is a rare occasion when I turn on the air conditioner. The fresh air feels so much better than the air conditioner ever did.
I live only a few miles away from Grossmont Center which is a gorgeous outdoor mall. Most all of the stores I would want to go to are in there and I can say I have seen my very first two-story Walmart and Target. There are actually escalators for your shopping cart so they can get to the upper level. What??? It is just a really cool place to go.
And the beaches. The beautiful beaches. When I first got here I spent so much time walking barefoot on the beach with the water splashing on my feet. There is nothing more healing than listening to the water and seeing the birds walking around not caring that people are around them. I absolutely love the beach so much.
One of my regrets is that once I started working I was so tired each night that I haven’t been to the beach since the first week I was here. I get home and literally collapse on the couch or my bed and am just drained. 😦
I love where I work so much. The Torrey Pines clinic is gorgeous and has so many places to sit outside. We’ve had meetings out there, and eating lunch out there under the trees is such a nice way to spend the lunch hour. Sometimes I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to work here.
It’s been a wonderful experience and it’s hard to believe I’m down to my last month here and I will be heading back to Kansas soon. Today it’s been hot and sunny. When I get back to Kansas it will be snowy and cold. My poor body won’t know what to do with itself. This afternoon the neighbors around me have been swimming in their pools. Back home it is a sultry 40° right now.
As much as I love the city, I do miss my family dearly. It will be worth braving the cold and snow to spend time with them again. I will be home just in time for Christmas shopping and spending the holidays with the ones I love.
This has been an amazing adventure and one I wouldn’t trade for the world. In a life that has become somewhat uncertain, this has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I will treasure it always.
For today, we aren’t in Kansas anymore, but soon enough I will be!
Dx 10/9/2018, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), left breast, 1.5cm, Nottingham Grade 2, hormone receptor positive, ER+ (estrogen receptor)/PR+ (progesterone receptor), HER2- (human epidermal growth factor), BRACA- (genetic mutation), Stage IV, metastasized to bones
Dx reclassified 10/1/2019, IDC, left breast, 1.9cm, Nottingham Grade 1, HR+, ER+/PR+, HER2-, BRACA-, PIK3CA+, Stage IV, metastasized to bones
First CA 27.29 10/9/2018 83 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2018 Tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) pills
Targeted Therapy 10/12/2018 Xgeva (Denosumab) injection
Hormonal Therapy 10/19/2018 Lupron Depot (Leuprolide Acetate) injection
Surgery 11/29/2018 Vaginal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
First CA 27.29 post hysterectomy 12/10/2018 73 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 12/11/2018 Femara (letrozole) pills
Targeted Therapy 12/23/2018 Ibrance (palbociclib) capsules
First CA 27.29 post medication change 1/10/2019 60 (goal <38)
PET Scan 2/22/2019 Breast tumor showed no appreciable FDG uptake (essentially inactive), mets to bone improved from MRI
CA 27.29 5/2/2019 39 (goal <38)
CA 27.29 6/27/2019 53 (goal <38)
PET Scan 6/28/2019 Activity in breast that suggested new or recurrent disease, activity in skeletal lesion appeared to mostly regressed slightly since prior PET scan
Surgery 7/1/2019 Left breast lumpectomy with biozorb placement
First CA 27.29 post surgery 7/25/2019 55 (goal <38)
CA 27.29 8/22/2019 46 (goal <38)
CA 27.29 9/27/2019 77.9 (goal <38.6)
PET Scan 10/5/2019 Low level uptake is surrounding postsurgical changes in the lateral left breast, with interval resection of small spiculated lesion since the outside PET scan. Mediastinum as well as the contents of the abdomen and pelvis within normal limits. The tracer localization within the skeleton is uniform and mild, in spite of the widespread evidence of lytic and blastic metastatic disease.
CA 27.29 10/25/2019 78.7 (goal <38.6)