Saturday, September 26, 2009


I have always needed a lot of sleep.  Even as an adult, I do better on nine hours a night.  I'm like a 10 year old that way.

Not only do I need a lot of sleep, I need to sleep at the right time.  I'm a picky sleeper.  Morning sleeping is the best - mornings awake are not for me.  I hate everything about early mornings - the way the light looks, the voices of people, my cat who wants to be on my lap, my family.  (DON'T TALK TO ME! GET OFF MY LAP!!!)   The only thing I can stand is coffee, without which I would not get up. Period.

On weekends and summers, I stay up until 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. (watching Sex and the City, damn I love that show - hey!  Didn't Samantha have breast cancer?  I'll have to check into those episodes, I'm sure she looked fabulous).  The next day, I sleep until 11:00.

When I took my job as school secretary, knowing I was going to have to be at work at the stomach-wrenching hour of 7:00 a.m. and leave the house at the god-awful hour of 6:30 and get up at the horrifying hour of 5:00 a.m. (which honestly should be illegal) I tried to change my body clock.  I bought a 10k lumen light and sat in front of it for 30 minutes a day;  I took melatonin, used one of those wake up watches, etc.

It didn't work. I was still in a fog in the mornings.  So, my habit was to come home from work and take a 30 minute nap.  That's all I needed, and then I felt fine.  I'd lie on the couch and doze off, then get up, make dinner, clean house, help the kid with homework, etc.  I ran errands, went to the store, did laundry and picked out clothes for the next day, and generally did everything necessary to function in life.  I didn't even need a nap every day, just once in a while - a little refresher.

Things have changed.  Now, all I want to do is sleep.  I do get up and go to work because I have to.  But,  I am exhausted all day.   I look at the space under my desk longingly, knowing it would make a fine place to slumber.  Friday, I even went over to the area that used to be the nurses office (there are no school nurses anymore) and lied down on the old cot, just for five minutes.  Kids came and went, phones rang, teachers joked - and none of it mattered.  I was going to fall asleep. Hard.  Realizing I might fall sleep for, oh, the rest of my work day and beyond, I wearily got up again and went back to my desk.

Every day now I come home from work and sleep - for hours.  In bed.  I'm asleep by 4:00 and usually sleep until 6:00 to 6:30 and I only wake up because my husband wakes me when he gets home.  Then I go back to bed at 10:30.  10:30!  Like an infant!  Weekends are no different.  I get up at 11:00 and need a nap by 3:00, and when I say nap I mean I need to sleep four more hours.  I am posting to this blog and I check the breast cancer forums but even that is all I can do. I'm not doing much else online or anywhere else.

People were thinking my near hibernation is an emotional reaction, but if you have read this blog from the beginning, you know I'm not really having that kind of emotional reaction.  I'm an "it is what is is" kind of person and kind of dumb about worrying about the future.  (People who have lots of thoughts about their future don't usually end up as bartenders/secretaries).   So, I'm pretty sanguine about this. If I end up stage four, that may change, but right now I feel like I'm curable and it'll all be okay.  Unpleasant, but okay.

I always felt that my extreme tiredness was due to my body fighting off cancer.

A couple of people on the breast cancer forums reported the same thing,  but most who complain of tiredness are in treatment already.  Most find a lump, get diagnosed and start treatment within a few weeks - and most have a smaller, less aggressive form of cancer. But, since my family has been understanding (my husband has taken over the cooking and my A student doesn't really need my  help with homework) I didn't feel the reasons for my debilitation were important enough to explore. 

Actually, I'm too tired to think about it.

But, last night the feeling that this is part of the illness and not stress was confirmed by a movie we watched:  Living Proof.

Living Proof, in case you missed this stunningly well-acted and filmed movie (I joke) is about the path of Herceptin's approval though the FDA.  It's a made for lifetime movie starring Harry Connick Jr, which should tell you all you need to know about it.  The script was so bad I was reciting lines before the actors said them - and I'd never seen this movie before.

I could write this shit!

But, the topic was interesting to me since I'm HER 2+ and I will be taknig Herceptin. And, did you know ten years ago my kind of cancer would have been a death sentence?  Herceptin changed all that.   Now I have the same chance as anybody else with cancer, so it really is a miracle drug.  Had it a good script and decent actors, it might have been a compelling story.

Back to sleep:  One of the characters in the movie had difficulty staying awake.  This was before she was diagnosed.  Her family thought she was so tired because she had two little boys to take care of.  She was HER 2+ too.  She is the first person who ever got Herceptin.  Her first cancer symptom was fatigue.

So, there is my proof.  A bad Lifetime movie confirmed it.  I'm tired because my body is fighting this cancer.  It's not stress and it's not my imagination.

There's not a lot about exhaustion before you begin treatment online, but I found this on a website, "In a tumor-induced “hypermetabolic” state, tumor cells compete for nutrients, often at the expense of the normal cells' growth. In addition to fatigue, weight loss and decreased appetite are common effects." 

I do have a fast growing, high nuclear grade, aggressive tumor so this makes sense.  And, I did lose three pounds, although my appetitie is fine.

That coconut cupcake I had for my afternoon snack was delicious.

But, if I get more tired during my treatments, as everybody suggests,  I'm going to end up in a coma.

Wake me in the spring.


  1. Stress is tiring. Just start with that and take a nap. Also, go watch the episodes of SITC where Samantha has BC. Then go find the SITC movie where it talks about her five years out. Cynthia Nixon had BC in real life. But I think they handled it very well. I was very hesitant to watch those episodes and the movie because of my diagnosis but thought it was well done. Watch the chemo party - its pretty true to life.

  2. I'm not really stressed though, that was my point.

    I don't own the DVDs - been waiting for them to come out on blue-ray. So, I just kind of watch what I record, and it's hit or miss. It may be time to buy the series though.

    I LOVED the movie - saw it opening weekend and again since then. And, it was before my dx so I don't even remember the five years out part!

  3. Ann - I found your blog from a post on the discussion boards, and I feel like I'm running a month behind you, but I feel like I could have written your earlier posts! I have a lump that the doctor found at my Pap. In my mind, I've had cancer ever since. I've had the diagnostic mam (inconclusive), going for an u/s on Tuesday. Dr. Google is my doctor too!

    Anyway, I started blogging too, if you're interested I am hoping the best for you, and love your humor.

  4. Vicki, I hope your lump comes out benign but if not, you'll get a lot of support on the forums. I tried to leave a comment on your blog but you restricted it to team members? Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye out for your definitive diagnosis. I hope you don't take after me!

  5. I love your blog. It makes me laugh out loud. I am also called Ann, age 51 and my eldest is 22. Feel we have a lot in common. I did have a DCIS when I was 25... God knows why... no family history, slim, not much of a drinker etc. These things happen. I had no more problems for 25 years, apart from lymphoedema as a result of radiotherapy on the axilla. (They did that for DCIS back in 1985, they wouldn't now.) Then a routine mammo last October revealed an invasive tumour. Mastectomy and reconstruction. No chemo, I was lucky. But knackered? Yes!!


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