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April
23
2021

"Look Ma No Hair"

Hello Hello TEAM Tammy!

Thank you all again so much for all of your support!  I am working my way through the milestones of cancer.

How's Chemo treating me?

CHEMO 1: 04-08-21

  • 🤪 First few days were Amazing!  Steroids gave me so much energy and I actually got a ton of stuff done!
  • 😴 Followed by CRASH - depleted of energy and essentially slept for a few days
  • 🙂 The next few days were fine 
  • 😲 !!!!PAIN!!!! - So after chemo you get a patch of sorts called Neulasta - it infuses a hormone to stimulate red & white blood cells - well it also causes bone pain.  I got to experience so much pain in my hips, pelvis, back and femurs that I was certain I must be going into labor.  Thankfully, the worst of this lasted only about 36 hours.  
  • 💩 - very uncomfortable bout of angry bowels - resulting a a great deal of let's just say "discomfort" - this lasted about 48 hours - Thank you JESUS!
  • 😓 - one day of hot flashes
  • 😴 - several days of crushing fatigue - managed by short days and many naps

I admit that the above symptoms certainly cannot be described as a good time, but truly I feel that it wasn't horrible!  I still feel blessed that I can benefit from going through all of this to come out the other side of this healthy and happy!

Last but not least of all:  HAIR LOSS - is an unavoidable side effect of my chemo regime is hair loss.  I knew that the bulls-eye for this was going to be around the 2 week mark.  SO that is where we are....  I prepared for this by cutting my hair before my first chemo.  This past Sunday (Day 12) my hair started to fall out.  I also experienced a tender scalp like you get from a tight pony tail or if someone pulled really hard on your hair.  So, I got my head shaved.   It is shaved to a #2, this allows me to use a lint roller on my head to pull out the hair that has died and let loose from the follicle.  I will likely be completely bald in about a week.  I was nervous about this step.  I was really worried that I would have an ugly or have and odd misshapen head that would just make me feel even more self-conscious.  It turned out ok, its not too bad and I have even felt confident enough to not wear a head covering.  

Next post ....... Head-coverings.

Thank you everyone for your continued support.  

Next Chemo 4-29-2021

--Tammy

 

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April
8
2021

Chemo #1- DONE!

Hi Team Tammy,

 

This is Kara.  Tammy completed her first round of chemo today.  She is scheduled for 4 rounds total.  She should have her last round in June.  She is getting her chemo at her oncologist's office.  The infusion room is large, bright and has super comfy chairs and knitted blankets.  It is as welcoming as environment as you could want.  She was doted on by the nursing staff and Dr. Dushkin.  Noah brought her to the appointment and I joined them mid infusion.  Tammy was quickly identified as a chemo newbie by other patients and they offered words of encouragement and gave helpful tips.  The infusions went fairly smoothly after a small reaction to the first med.  They gave her some Benadryl and steroids and things were back on track quickly.  The first medication causes a lot of nerve pain in the hands and feet so Tammy used ice blocks until the med was done.  That's normal.

She's going to be resting up over the next few days and we will see how she feels next week as well from a fatigue standpoint.  Since this is her first round, we will learn how she does and that will only help on the next 3.  After the chemo is done, she will start radiation as the 3rd phase of treatment.

As always, thanks for all of the love, support, prayers and well wishes!  Tammy will post soon.  The info about donations for her care is in a previous post. 

Thanks all!

Kara

March
21
2021

Donations Update

Hello everyone! This is Maddie.

I've gotten a few messages regarding donations and I wanted to post the donation information again for anyone who wanted it.

Also, a reminder that if you donate through the CaringBridge site, the donation will go to the CaringBridge company, not to Tammy.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me, Trista or Kara with any questions.

Thank you everyone for the overwhelming support. The donations, prayers, good vibes, positive energy and everything in between have been amazing.

Here's the copied post from Trista:

Below you will find several avenues in which to donate monetarily. We researched a lot of options and while there are some fantastic fundraising and donations options out there - unfortunately they all take a small portion. Team Tammy's ultimate goal is to keep whatever amount of donations she receives to 100% go to her and her expenses. If you are not familiar with her son Noah, he is a financial guru so he is facilitating managing the Venmo/Paypal/Cashapp. If you are somewhat old school (no insult here - I get it!) please reach out to me directly if you'd like to send something not electronic and I will provide details on how to do that. 

MealTrain: https://mealtrain.com/2664em

MealTrain email address: maddienoah@gmail.com

Venmo: @noah-phipps-3

PayPal: @noahdphipps

CashApp: $noahdphipps

March
21
2021

Moving into Phase 2

Hi all,

This is Kara with an update.  Tammy is doing quite well after her surgery.  Her incisions are basically healed and her pain is very well controlled.  We are all happy about this great news!  She's ready to move into phase 2 of her treatments.  

We decided to have the rest of her care in the civilian setting and we have been getting that organized in the past few weeks.  She has an amazing oncologist, Dr. Holly Dushkin and we are very comfortable with the next steps.

People have been asking about her stages- she is 1A on the left side and 1B on the right side.  The B is because she had a positive lymph node on that side in case you were wondering.  The mastectomies were essentially curative of the localized cancer and the next phase will help to reduce her risk of recurrence in the future.  

She will have 4 cycles of chemotherapy (1 day/week every 3 weeks).  The chemo will be done in Dr. Dushkin's office and she does not need to get a mediport, which is a welcome development.  The first cycle will be the first week in April.  After she completes chemo, she will have radiation at GW.  Still to be determined how many treatments but probably 25-30.  She'll take a med every day as well to reduce the estrogen floating around in her body.  About 6 months after the radiation is done, she will have her reconstruction at GW.

Overall, this plan is the best way to fully kick the shit out of her cancer and Tammy is very grateful to everyone for all of the love, support, prayers, well wishes and encouragement.  Her tribe is wonderful.  If anyone wishes to contribute to her medical expenses, please see Trista's posts.  Every penny is going directly to the medical bills.  We set things up this way intentionally so she didn't have to split donations with something like a gofundme.

As always, please message Trista or I if you have specific questions.  Tammy is reading all of your lovely comments and she will continue to post on this site as well.

Phase 2....here we come.  Let's Go!

Thanks all,

Kara

March
8
2021

HEALING UPDATE & GRATITUDE

Hello Friends and Family

First of all I want to take the time to express my gratitude for the gifts, food, cards, flowers, prayers and well wishes.  I am now 2 weeks post op (January 22nd).  I have been resting and have been well taken care of!  So here we are with my care and recovery.

Surgery - I admit that I grossly underestimated the amount of fatigue and pain I was going to have.  I cannot tell you how very lucky I am to have Kara Couch on my team, she has been my "home health doctor".  She has been guiding us (mostly Maddie) in medication management to help me through the acute part of this surgery.  She along with Paul Gobourne have been my healthcare advocates and have made sure that the balls that get dropped are retrieved.  Maddie has been an absolute godsend taking care of me, she gets up at all hours of the day and night to adjust my pillows and give me medication.  Noah has been driving me to my doctor appointments and taking Smoke to work.

Drains - March 1 - I had 2 of my 4 drains removed and expect the other 2 to come out this coming week.

Pathology - I have gotten some reports back and are waiting for a few more.  Here is what I do know

1.  All margins are clear - Great news

2.  One positive (non sentinel) lymph node - I will hear more about treatment options this week

3.  Oncotype/Genetic Testing - has not yet come back - this will let us know if I have to have chemo and dictate further treatment

Reconstruction - during my surgery, the plastics team put in what are called "spacers".  These are temporary bags that are essentially tissue expanders.  When I and my body are ready, they will begin the process of "filling" them up, expanding the tissue and preparing my body for the next phase of reconstruction surgery.   

This whole process has been far more exhausting than I had prepared myself for, not that I had much time to prepare.  I want you all to know that I getting all of your messages both directly and indirectly.  I am getting all of your wonderful gifts.  These really  mean so much to me.  Please do not be offended when I don't reply or you hear from one of my care team members.  I really do appreciate and very much need the support now.

DRCE - Noah has been going to work nearly every day and helping to fill my role at DRCE.  Trista has been managing the DRCE fort and things are going just fine without me!  I am really proud of my whole team!

What's next - more rest and healing.  I don't expect to be back to work full time at least for another few weeks. 

Thank you so much

Tammy

February
26
2021

Meal train Questions Answered

Hello everyone! Maddie again.

We had a few questions about the meal train.

We were under the impression that the meal train would pre-fill the email to send the gift cards to but they don't.

If you need the email it's maddienoah@gmail.com

Thank you so much to everyone who's already contributed to both the meal train and the donations directly to us. I'll add the links and donation destinations again in case anyone wanted them.

MealTrain: https://mealtrain.com/2664em
Venmo: @noah-phipps-3
PayPal: @noahdphipps
CashApp: $noahdphipps

February
26
2021

Postop Day 3

HI all, Kara here.

Today was a great day for Team Tammy.  She's feeling much more like herself and is getting antsy being at home.  She tried to make a jail break today to "visit" the office.  I noped the F outta that.  She has been accusing Maddie and I of being "no fun".  Oh well, too bad for her!  Maddie and Noah are being good wardens and are letting me be bad cop.  I was born for that, lol.  But, most importantly, she is getting some real rest and her pain is doing ok.  We made a few more tweaks today and I think she will continue to feel better each day as long as she takes it easy.

I took down all of her dressings today.  Her incisions look AWESOME.  Healing beautifully.  She then was able to shower and that made her feel human again. The plastics resident told me I could replace her dressings with gauze or something else.  Isn't that cute?  For those that don't know me, I'm a wound care NP.  I hooked her up with the good stuff. She said it feels much better.  Pic that she wanted posted is below. 

Next step for the incisions and healing is to start getting some of her drains out next week.  She has 4 and it will probably be a few weeks before everything is out.

Best news of all today is that her prelim path report came back and her margins are CLEAR!  That means no spread of the cancer and most importantly NO RADIATION!  Thank God! She had 1 positive lymph node and we are waiting for further test results to determine if she will need chemo or not.  Overall a very positive report.

Please see the post Trista made yesterday about the Meal Train and various options if anyone would like to contribute to her fund for expenses.  She is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, prayers, love and general awesomeness from her friends and family.  As you all know, she more than deserves it.

Let Trista or I know if you have any questions.  

Thanks all!

 

Kara

February
24
2021

Meal Train is up and running! Choo choo

Hello friends - Trista here

I've gotten so many questions regarding meals and/or donations. After several loooong talks with Tammy I believe we have convinced her it is OK to accept help and kindness from her community. There may be unforseen expenses as she goes through this journey that she did not anticipate. Also, as Madison and Noah are home to help her they will get to enjoy eating together as a family (something they haven't always had time to do in recent years)

Below you will find several avenues in which to donate monetarily. We researched a lot of options and while there are some fantastic fundraising and donations options out there - unfortunately they all take a small portion. Team Tammy's ultimate goal is to keep whatever amount of donations she receives to 100% go to her and her expenses. If you are not familiar with her son Noah, he is a financial guru so he is facilitating managing the Venmo/Paypal/Cashapp. If you are somewhat old school (no insult here - I get it!) please reach out to me directly if you'd like to send something not electronic and I will provide details on how to do that. 

MealTrain: https://mealtrain.com/2664em

Venmo: @noah-phipps-3

PayPal: @noahdphipps

CashApp: $noahdphipps

 

Also, most importantly, I was able to see Tammy last night when I took Smoke home to her and she looked FANTASTIC! And I just spoke to her and she was able to go for a walk outside in the sunshine with Madison ☀️

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or Kara with anything and we will be sure to pass it on to Tammy

 

You all have been AMAZING with support, prayers, good vibes, and positive energy. Keep it coming!!