Then the CAT Scan began and lasted no more than 10 minutes in the big donut. My total time on the table was about 25 minutes, which was okay.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Met with the Radiation Oncologist last Friday (Vic's birthday). Nothing extraordinary. However, my anxiety was high as I wasn't sure if it was the simulation or planning session.
For the planning session, I was told that I would have to lie on my back, for about an hour, with my hands holding onto a bar above my head - and not move. I'm such a ninny, but being told I have to hold still for a great length of time causes me alot of anxiety. . . the feeling I get with claustrophobia.
I will go for this lovely planning session this Wednesday at 10 am. Going to go slightly medicated. Not sure if Vic is going with me, but I figured I could take the meds on the way to the session and be "calm" by the time it starts. I won't take too much that will prevent me from driving back to work afterwards. We'll have to think about this some more.
I will be going for radiation Monday through Friday. They won't know if I qualify for the 3-week "Canadian study" until the planning is completed. Otherwise, it's 6-7 weeks, Monday-Friday. Oh my!
It feels like this journey will never be over. Next week I go see the oncology nurses to have my port flushed. I will see them once a month for this until the port comes out (another anxiety causing concern - it will be done in the doctor's office).
I know I just need to keep plugging along and doing all I can do to beat this #&%^$ cancer!
More later . . . .
Hugs to all!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
It's not about the presents, tho I did lament the normalcy that I so wanted in my life to just be able to go out and buy them. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is about family.
The excitement of Christmas is being with my children and grandchildren. While they may forget which present they received from me, I so want them to have the memories of good times that we spent together. I love them so much! The two little ones' eyes will light up and big smiles will appear on their face as they run to me to give me a big hug. Why can't we treat everyone in our lives this way? What a big difference our lives would make in others!
Today is no cancer talk, no health discussions, no "what is next", and no fear. It is a time for celebrating life -- Jesus Christ's, my family's and my friends'.
May you find the joy and love in your life today and every day! It may be hard for some to find the love and joy given their current circumstances, but it is there. Trust me . . .
Here is my favorite song by one of my favorite artists . . . Sandy Patti. Scroll down to the video.
No need to mourn
His hand is stretched out still
For unto us a child is born
His promise to fulfill
He cried for you
He did not come to us in vain
His loving arms are open wide for you
And he will come
He will come again
For the Child that was born there
Has come to set us free
I can see Him in your eyes
For the Child that was born there
His spirit never dies
His star will never, will never grow dim
And it's a brand-new dawn
A new Jerusalem
And we and we will reign
We will reign with him
Is more than just a memory
For the Child that was born there
Has come to set us free
I can see it in your eyes
For the Child that was born there
Is the King of kings
And the Lord of lords
And He will come again
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We brought him home Thursday night with his IV capped off to see if he would eat in his home environment. It didn't go well. You could tell he was traumatized from his ordeal and having the IV still in his leg. Vic was able to get him to eat a little Friday morning - his first food since Sunday. Seattle went back to the vet hospital Friday morning and they released him last night. He was given appetite stimulation drugs and he is eating just fine! He is weak - can you imagine being in a cage with no exercise or food for 5 days?
I was able to get out on a lunch hour this week to buy Vic a birthday gift. That small act lifted my spirits. Even though he saw the gift already (brat), it felt good to do something "normal". We went out last night after work to get the last items for Christmas.
Today we are preparing for the new round of snow and wind that is expected tonight. The Seattle area just can't handle this amount of snow. . . . there aren't enough snow plows and equipment to clear all the roads. It doesn't make sense to purchase alot of snow equipment given that the area gets hit with big storms every couple of years.
The post-chemo dry eyes and blurry vision continues. Vic just brought home a new humidifier so we'll see if that helps. I am using TheraTears 4 times a day, but it helps only for a little while. Then let's go into the dry skin . . .ugh. Winter always brings about dry skin for me . . .but add in chemo, it is so much worse.
The fingers and toes continue to hurt. Not sure how much is neuropathy and how much is from the nails. The nails hurt when buttoning shirts, typing and when I press on them. Each hand has two nails with red/pink marks starting at the top. The article I just linked talks about the line reflecting the timing of chemo. I've found that keeping the nails short helps, but darn if these things aren't growing an inch daily! Okay, I exaggerate . . . but I haven't seen this much nail growth in my life!
While I am so glad and elated that chemo is done, it is definitely a gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.
Hair continues to grow and fill in. Anyone going through chemo, I highly recommend using the 3 product system of Nioxon! I started using it right after I buzzed my hair and have never gone completely bald . . smooth, shiny bald. I've had peach fuzz the entire time and now 3/4" growth. Losing the hair and finding what's right and comfortable to wear (scarves, wigs, hats) is the hardest part of this whole journey. I find that I still battle the "depression" when I see myself in the mirror.
Life continues and I'm thankful for that!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Vic and I visited him tonight at the vet hospital. He looked very depressed in his cage, hooked up to an IV. Vic took him out and Seattle enjoyed being petted and rubbed. He even purred!!! Last night, Vic said Seattle wouldn't/couldn't make a peep . . and he (not Vic) is a very loud and long-lasting purrer.
We spent about an hour petting and combing him as he loves this. We were waiting for Seattle to bite Vic, as is his usual play time with Vic, but no bites. The Vet spent quite a bit of time updating us on what improvements Seattle had made - no vomiting or diarrhea - and what he had to do next before being released - eat something. We mentioned that Seattle likes Friskies, which our other cat eats. Friskies is forbidden on Seattle's diabetic diet. Vet said that's "candy" and if Seattle would eat it, he could have. So off I go to the store, leaving Vic with Seattle.
No dice. He wouldn't eat it. Could it have been that I bought the wrong type of Friskies? Who knew that Friskies makes regular, grilled, flaked, chunky, sliced varieties? Not me! We tried three other types of cat food that the Vet had. Still no dice. One was an appetite stimulating food. Cats know when they shouldn't eat we were told.
I will be taking the "right" Friskies to the Vet's on my way to work tomorrow.
Seattle is on Compazine, which is one of the drugs I first had for nausea (and which caused me to have high anxiety and the willies). It was really weird to be able to relate with the Vet about Compazine, discuss other anti-nausea meds, appetite stimulation drugs and the need to get calories up even if it means eating candy/dessert. Look what I've learned from having cancer . . . $60,000 later! Makes me wonder how much this whole breast cancer crap will cost before I get to the goal - NED (No Evidence of Disease)?!
I haven't gone out into the crowds shopping for Christmas or Vic's birthday (Dec 26th) or Vic's Christmas present(s). Daughter Christy picked up two games for me on Black Friday to give to her daughters, which was much appreciated. Last Saturday my energy was up to watch Christy's church play - which she was in - and a quick run into a non-mall store to buy three presents. Vic is out now picking up a few remaining gifts.
I am feeling a bit guilty (and sad) that Vic continues to have to pick up the slack. This &$#! cancer has taken so much from both of our lives. Right now it's taking my energy. I barely have enough energy to survive at work 8 am to 5 pm and perform almost to my best.
Most Christmas' finds me running out on my lunch hour to do some quick, but specific shopping. I love doing my holiday shopping this way. Now I have to be concerned about saving that lunch hour energy to finish out the day. This sucks!
I am really hoping that my energy reservoir is full this Saturday or Sunday so I can at least get Vic a birthday gift. He always gets robbed on celebrating his birthday anyway - cancer shouldn't rob him of at least a present!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'm having a lot of fatigue spells. Last night was especially tough as it was an effort to even talk. The fatigue was still around this morning; I had to take a 30 minute "nap" at work just to get through the rest of the day.
Chemo-brain type stuff is happening more often. Today at work, I forgot to do the deposit for the office (due by 10 am). Totally forgot! I've also been saying things and people are looking at me weird. Like, can't they read my mind and figure out what I meant to say? At least I can still laugh at it and myself.
One of our elderly cats, Seattle, is very sick and has been in the vet hospital since yesterday. The vet thinks it's pancreatitis. We've been dealing with Seattle's diabetes for a few months, giving him daily insulin. It is a sad night here at our home - lots of "what ifs" and tears. Please pray that the antibiotics and all the other things the vet is trying do work.
If Seattle doesn't improve tomorrow, he will more than likely go to kitty heaven. It will be a hard day for both of us as we love this little guy so much. I hate the idea that if he doesn't respond, we go to the vet's after work to say our good-byes. What a heavy thing to hang over us all day.
I wish my BC sisters a wonderful Wednesday tomorrow!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Can we say "yahoo!!!!!!"
Dr. Peter . . are you there? Dr. Pinder. . .are you there? Can I join you and bug the heck out of you with questions? Call me. . .let's do lunch. I'll pay.
MUC-1 Vaccine Trial
Sign me up! Requirements include surgery, chemo and radiation to be completed. Okay, that's it! I'm doing the radiation!
Remember I said that there were no markers for breast cancer - unless it gets to the metastatic stage (per Dr. P)? More good news!! Yes, there are "mights" and "maybes" in this article, but it could become a "fer sure".
Early in my journey, I was told that big pharmaceutical bucks were going to be thrown at researchers for triple negative breast cancer. TBNC has become the "hot" topic in breast cancer in the past few years. Researchers already came up with drugs for estrogen and progesterone fueled tumors, but nothing was there for TNBC besides surgery, chemo and radiation.
I truly love this analogy that my on-line sister survivor wrote the other day. It really got me to thinking. I assumed that once chemo and radiation were over, I might be tired or chemo-brained for a few months . . . then I'd be back to Renee and life would be normal.
It has been 8 months since Kathy finished chemo. She finds herself still having chemo fogs and the fatigue crashes (she has put the weird fatigue feeling into words much better than me). My co-worker told me that when she interviewed for her position with the City, it has been a year since she finished chemo. It was a struggle for her to do the interview - she still had side effects from chemo. In fact, she still has some neuropathy in her feet and it's been 11 years!!
I never bought into this "you will have a new normal" crap. Yeah, the new normal is that you are never free from the medical community and testing, poking and prodding . . . and worrying if that little ache is mets (metastasis).
In my mind, I have broken this cancer trip into three segments. Surgery, chemo, radiation. Period and I'm done. . stick a fork in me. My way of managing the scary, big, overwhelming, all consuming, cancer crap. Can I say crap a few more times? It's not what I really want to say!
The outcomes from this research may, might, gonna, will help us get back to our "real" normal.
Who knows, maybe I will live to mimic my idol, Maxine!?
Many, many blessings to you and your home!
Please visit this cancer sister's blog and leave her a note. We all need to step outside of our comfort zone and offer support to Judy. I don't know Judy personally, but came across her blog when looking for other TNBC peeps.
You will have to sign up to access Care Pages, but it's free and they don't add you to a spam list!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I can feel my fingernails trying to lift. They hurt, but I am babying them so they don’t. I’ve been using the sides of the fingers to pick up items. I’ve also cut the nails pretty short so they don’t extend beyond the finger tips. The finger pads hurt and they are very dry – I can see cracking lines forming. Again, I’m doing everything to keep the cracks from forming – using Bag Balm. Stinkiest stuff around, but this is what was recommended by the oncology nurses.
I also have to use the Bag Balm each evening on the toes . . .they hurt as well . . burning and tingling. I am so glad that chemo treatments have ended. Not sure what would have happened to these body parts with more chemo.
I can tell the difference in the level of "chemo brain" this time. It has increased. Words don't come easily when speaking, I am having challenges spelling, and I can't read my novel by Catherine Coulter . . . can't remember what I read the last time the book was open. Now we get to see what the long-term effects will be. . .how long will the tiredness or chemo fog last? This is scary.
We meet with the radiation oncologist, Dr. B, on Vic’s birthday, December 26. We had met him initially in July right after the diagnosis. But since that meeting was pre-surgery and before we knew about the cancer type and size, it was a short visit.
I had hoped to have the radiation at our local hospital – which happens to be across the street from my work! I wasn’t comfortable with the local radiation oncologists, so decided to go with Dr. B. What this means is driving to Federal Way (5 miles west of our town) on my lunch break for daily radiation, Monday through Friday. I’m hoping that I can get in and out and back to work within that one hour. We’ll find out how many radiations I need. I am hoping for the 3-week Canadian study. That would be a dream. But it has to be sufficient quantity to assure me that we have done all we can for TNBC.
Regarding hair. . . on the head it is still growing. I noticed today that the eyebrows are getting thinner . . .had to fill them in a bit with pencil.
I have heard of women who lost their eyebrows and eyelashes while on chemo, had them grow back after chemo only to fall out later. Keeping my fingers crossed that I get to be unique . . just let them grow!
Vic is doing well on the groin tumor. He says that the core needle biopsy actually hurts worse than the tumor! He spoke with a neuropathologist at his job today and worked into the conversation his (Vic’s) condition. The neuropatholgoist gave Vic a name of a surgeon who he would trust doing this surgery. So that’s Vic task tomorrow . . .get an appointment!
Looking forward to a quiet weekend, praying that we get the snow the weather forecasters are predicting.
For those of you who live in snow country, you probably think I'm crazy. I am. We lived in Eastern Washington (46" snow average each year) and I actually miss having snow. The only problem with Seattle receiving snow - no one knows how to drive in it! They will leave their cars on the side of the freeways because the cars are rear wheel drive or they don't have chains. We found it pretty funny the first time we saw this. . .I'm sure those who left their cars didn't.
A glad heart makes a healthy body, but a crushed spirit makes the bones dry. (Proverbs 17:22). Let's go see a comedy!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.
Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered. So, frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.
When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.
Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.
The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"
And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree...
Did you watch the Front of the Class, the Hallmark Story on CBS Sunday, Dec 7? If you didn't, I highly recommend finding it online, your library or purchasing it.
I usually don't watch these sappy type movies, but this one kept me engaged. I guess it's because of what I am going through right now - I needed a "think positive" movie. And what I am going through seems so inconsequential to what this young man went through in the story. He persevered; didn't waiver in his faith and never lost site of his goal - to become a teacher against all odds of Tourette's.
Today is a quiet day after a long night. Now that I am finished with chemo, I have the time table down. Shoot dang!
Don't read anymore if you don't like TMI.
The chemo and anti-nausea meds cause constipation for the first few days. When you just get to the point of rectifying the situation, i.e., laxatives, oatmeal, fruit, etc., the diarrhea hits. There is a fine balance between getting the two under control. Unfortunatley, I thought I had it figured out and was just so sure that I had passed (tee hee) with flying colors on not landing too much on one end of the spectrum.
Note to other BC survivors: Keep a list of which meds cause constipation and diarrhea. Keep laxatives and Immodium on hand. And pray that you find the balance PDK.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Tonight is a city council committee meeting and my backup for taking the minutes isn't available. I will see how I feel later this afternoon and if I can go in. Why do we let guilt talk loudly in our lives?
My brain and fingers aren't working too well so they ought to be interesting minutes if I do go in. Luckily the meeting is recorded so I can refer to this for questions. We'll see. I'll have to assess my driving skills as well :-).
At the last treatment, the Onc Nurses said I needed to do or buy something to celebrate completing chemo. I told them we purchased a new washer and dryer - the front loading style - and I was excited about that. They thought it should be something more personal. I had to chuckle - we'll I'm paying for the cancer treatment, isn't that enough?
There is something that I have wanted to do for the past 35 years and it looks like it might happen in 2009! I've always wanted to go to Nebraska in late Spring to revisit my grandparent's home and small town, as well as do some genealogy. Vic agreed! I am so excited about this . . . it is a goal that would keep me going for awhile.
Thank you for your continued support of emails, phone calls and comments on this blog. God bless you all!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
We have a pic of Vic in his "position", the hard chair next to the chemo recliner chair. He has been a wonderful support and my Rock during this. He would often rub my feet, which is a dream!
I received a graduation song - can't remember the words but something about side effects, including diarrhea. Dr. Pinder is in the green shirt. The nuns are Mary Ann and Jill who are actually Oncology nurses. They are a hoot. . ..just part of the craziness of saying goodbye. Sweet Cory is the other oncology nurse next to my chair.
It was a pretty emotional and high anxiety visit for me on this last chemo. All the fears of if we did enough to kill the cancer cells, getting the port out by the surgeon, etc. etc. where floating in the brain. It is hard to keep a positive mental 100% of the time. We do our best, but sometimes you just have to address those fears. Otherwise, they grow bigger than they really are. That's why it's good to NOT tell cancer patients to think positive all the time. We need to work it out.
Dr. P confirmed that I did no harm IF I had taken the supplements before and during Chemo #3. She said that since we had reviewed the list, she was okay. She had removed the ones that would cause trouble (high dose of Vitamin C is what I can remember). Whew! I did volunteer to come in for a few more treatments if necessary.
Did you know that there are no "markers" for breast cancer. Only if you get to metastasis do the markers come up. Please click on the link above. We need more research on these markers!
We did talk about my fears of metastasis since I've read about women who have had my same size and grade of tumor who are now with brain cancer. I do agree with her that quite a few of the metastatic women do participate more on the online support groups. We should create one for those that are Stage 1 to support each other with positives and decrease the negatives.
I asked Dr. P when I should call her if I have an ache or pain - a sign of metastasis. She said that if Tylenol and rest do not relieve the pain after a few days, then I should call. Even if it's to put my mind at rest.
I will also see her every 4-6 months, reviewing blood results. I'll have my first breast imaging 4-6 months after radiation is finished as radiation causes some changes in breast tissue and causes some inflammation so imaging is not very accurate.
Now is the time to schedule a meeting with a new Radiation Oncologist. I'm still not 100% sure I want to do this. But, I need to hit the Triple Negative Breast Cancer with everything there is. I did question why radiation is needed - wouldn't the chemo kill everything floating around? Dr. P said that the radiation targets the tumor site Chemo works best on microscopic deposits of tumor cells throughout the body. If there are any cancer cells remaining, one of the most likely would be in the tumor area of the breast. Radiation sterilizes this and can help to prevent second cancers.
I am so glad that this Segment 2 of 3 is done. I've come out of the chemo with my eyebrows and eyelashes intact - a little thin, but they remained. My fuzz is growing and I have about 1/2 inch in many places . . .white and curly! My hairdresser should be happy for some curl/body.
Having chemo is sort of like morning sickness, drinking too much and a touch of the flu all rolled into one! The actual "getting chemo" is really pretty easy. This morning I have a little nausea and need to go back to bed for a nap already.
Whoever and wherever you are, thank you for reading my thoughts and being part of this with me. I hope that if you are having to go through a breast cancer journey, that my words have validated your concerns and fears so that you feel "normal". And that I have given you some things to ask your doctors about, more importantly!
Let's see what we learn with Segment #3 - radiation!!
Hugs and peace to you and your home!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The nurses and Onc put on funny hats and two of them were dressed as nuns to sing me a graduation song. It was an original song - something about a specific side effct - diarrhea. It was pretty funny.
We went to Lowe's and Costco afterwards. Now I'm crashing . . . never had this immense need to sleep.
More tomorrow (hopefully) with pics.
Thank you all for your support and prayers!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
He hasn't talked to his doctor yet, but we believe it will need to be removed. We don't anticipate having the surgery until after January 1st. How does Vic know it's benign? It really helps to work in the pathology department where the biopsy was performed. He just found the resident who read the slides, who was willing to tell him the results.
This will give us time to replenish our Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). Luckily, my open enrollment for insurance and the FSA ends December 12th. Vic's been tasked to figure out how much money we will need to pay for this surgery. That's hard to do!
Thank goodness for my health insurance. We picked up the medications for this round of chemo. Cost would have been $640. . . .we paid $34.
Stress is high as I have a couple of projects to wrap up at work before the next chemo. Last week was a three day week due to the holiday and this week is 2.5 days due to the biopsy yesterday. I'll get it done, but I will be so happy not to have to plan my life around chemo and the "feel good" days. I'm sure my co-workers will be happy too!
Daughter Christy is joining me at chemo on Thursday - she wants to see what it's all about. Grandpa Vic will have Courtney Jean (age 5) while Christy is with me. I suggested that the two of them go clothes and shoe shopping. For some reason, he didn't think that was a good idea.
Talk to you in a couple of days!
It was a long day, in fact, Vic asked to leave early. He had enough. Doctors wanted him to have 4 hours bedrest after the procedure. Why? I'm not sure. But after Vic woke up from his Percocet induced nap, he said enough, buzzed for the nurse and got dressed.
What a sweet nurse, too! She asked me if I had breast cancer. Then she asked what kind, "The 2nd most aggressive". "Oh, not Inflammatory Breast Cancer"? No, thank God and it was found at Stage 1.
Nurse Challie went on to say that her girlfriend had IBC, but her doctor told her it wast nothing. A year later, the skin was still thick and tender, so the friend went back to the doctor. It was at Stage IV - a stage none of us want - and she died a short while later. Ladies! Listen to your bodies. Insist that your doctor do a test or procedure. If s/he won't, go to a second doctor. This isn't a time to be afraid of hurting your doctor's feelings by going to another doctor!
Nurse Challie looked at me square in the eyes and said, "Stage 1?! Oh, your time on earth is not finished. . .there are more great things for you to do. Why do people that are so sweet and those that would be great friends get cancer?" It was just the thing I needed to hear.
We talked about radiation a bit and my concern that it really isn't necessary - will do more harm in the long run. This was all while she is removing Vic's IV and checking his body parts. "What's one more month of a short doctor visit to ensure that a rogue cancer cell isn't still there to cause havoc? You've been through the worse - surgery and chemo."
Whew! That's all I can say . . . God putting a voice of reason in front of me?
We should know by Wednesday the results of Vic's biopsy.
Best of luck to my cyber cancer sisters, Sue, during her first chemo today and Sharon on her next chemo on Thursday! Many prayers and thoughts are being sent your way.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Not sure what caused the stomach to flare up, but I wasn't feeling all that well to enjoy a Forfar Bridie at the Pub. I enjoyed the soda bread, though!
What is a Forfar Bridie you ask? Here's from the Pub's menu online:
A Scottish dish invented by a Forfar baker in the 1850’s. Chopped steak, flavored just right with sautéed onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic & herbs, then baked in a puff pastry & then covered with our famous whiskey cream sauce.
It was nice to watch Vic dive into a really good looking Irish Stew and enjoy a dark ale.
We purchased the last Tortette at the Ocean Shores IGA store (the only grocery store in town) and I looked forward to enjoying this scrumptious appetizer before heading to the Pub. This was before the stomach issue too. When I opened the package, I could see mold on the bottom. I believe Vic was trying to convince me that the blue was part of the Gorgonzola, but I just wasn't buying it. The blue in the cheese isn't fuzzy. :-)
I have looked for the Gorgonzola Cheese Tortette locally but have been unable to find it. The company's website indicates that our local stores should carry it, so next time I'm in Albertsons or Safeway, I'll talk with the cheese buyer.
The fog would not lift at all on Saturday. No view of the ocean from our cozy hotel room with a view, but it was great to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. Yep, it's winter and I kept the window open a bit just to hear the sound. It's so relaxing and restorative to me.
The rooms without a view were special priced at $60. I thought we should argue that the more expensive room with a view should have been discounted as well since there wasn't a view
I don't recall ever seeing this when we lived in California, but driving on the beach is allowed at Ocean Shores. It's great for those days when it's too cold to be out walking on the beach for any great length of time. You can sit in your car and watch and hear the waves! We were able to spend a little time on the beach today before we left. No fog, but it sure was cold. I may have some pics up later . . . have to see how they came out on Vic's digital.
Vic is now at the AC/DC concert with our 14 year old grandson, Cameron. He doesn't expect to get home until midnight since he is driving Cam back home. . . .about 45 minutes north of where we live, but the concert is about 30 minutes south of us. You do the math.
Grandpa was Cameron's buddy for many years, so it's nice to have these two do something together. Cameron's step-father, Tom, became his buddy when Jen and Tom were dating . . . Grandpa sort of took a second place. Not that this is bad - we were thrilled that the grandkids liked Tom and he is a positive influence in their lives.
It has been 5 months since the diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer (June 30th). It seems much, much longer than that. Maybe because we were dealing with Vic's cancer, pheochromocytoma, in April?
Vic checks in tomorrow at 7 am for his biopsy on the "thing" in his groin, which means we leave the house at 6 am. Ambien is going to be my friend tonight! Hopefully Vic will recover his lost sleep when he's under the anesthesia.
Please join us in prayer that whatever this thing in Vic's body is not anything serious. We could use a break on this cancer crap.
Peace, over and out!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, December 3rd, will be my last chemo. Yeah! While I am excited to be over with chemo, I do wonder if we've done enough with the chemo drugs to kill any cancer cells floating around. Should I have more? Should I have a different drug? I am scared to not be going for more treatments. Is four really enough? Fear is creeping in, friends, and I'm not liking it.
I also wonder if the chemo is working. How does the oncologist know that it is? The tumor is gone, so they can't "view" it with MRI or ultrasound to know if it is shrinking due to the chemo. As far as I know, no "markers" have been mentioned. Down the road, how will I know if the cancer has come back early enough so it can be treated? This is all so confusing. I hope I have more than a few minutes with the oncologist next week.
Vic's biopsy is on Monday, December 2. He will have conscious sedation so that means that he needs a driver (me). He will go in at 7 am for prep, then the actual biopsy will be about 9 am and will take 1.5 hours. We then wait for the anesthesia to leave his system before he is released.
The "thing" is not 100% solid (tumor) nor is it 100% fluid filled (cyst). . .kind of a combination of both. The vascular is running through it. As Vic says, "No need to worry about it until there is something to worry about"! Ha! He forgets who is he is dealing with - me!
Vic and I are going to the ocean tomorrow for some long overdue R&R. I am hoping that we can just relax and enjoy ourselves without cancer being thought about. Wish we had more than one night at the ocean, but I'll take what I can get!
On Sunday, Vic and our grandson, Cameron (14), are going to an AC/DC. How cool is it to have a grandfather who likes to go to rock concerts? I hope Cameron can appreciate the uniqueness of this.
Thanks for reading and listening to my fears. lol
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Chemo brain? Old age? Lost my mind? Either way, it's pretty darn funny!
Looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my girls, son-in-laws and grandchildren. We will be cooking the bird and I'm so thankful that nausea is not around to prohibit this.
My mother is one of 12 children. With all the aunts, uncles, inlaws and cousins, we used to rent out the hall at our church in Fresno. What great times and memories I have of those times. Wonderful food, fun playing with the cousins in the church (without anyone telling us to behave) and just seeing everyone. I miss those times. I hope that we are giving our grandchildren some wonderful memories.
Hope your Thanksgiving is a blessed one!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We went to breakfast. I worked at the office for a few hours. Then watched the Washington State University Cougars beat the University of Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup. Go Cougs!!!
As you can tell by the previous blog entry, this journey gets old. It's a trip I never asked to go on nor would I wish on my worst enemy. I never would have thought breast cancer for me. Lung cancer, maybe, given that cigarettes were my friends for 25 years. Thankfully, I have been smoke-free for 12 years!
The first chemo was hell and the lowest of lows. This past week has been a different kind of hell, but I still came out alive. Everything in this picture was affected this time by the chemo drugs. The chemo fog has increased and the ability to multi-task is decreasing as well as the ability to find the right words.
I strongly believe in taking Glutamine and other supplements to boost my system and repair the damage done by the chemo drugs. After the first chemo hell, I did a lot of research and brought this "plan" to the Oncologist for her blessing.
What is frustrating is that no one in the medical field offered any education on supplements and vitamins! Why not? When I brought the suggested list and the reasons why I wanted to use the supplements/vitamins to the oncologist, she agreed with my reasoning.
It is possible that I was not taking enough glutamine and thus the gastrointestinal attack. Before the 2nd chemo, I started taking 20-30 grams 3-5 days before and continued until I felt better. I don't believe I did this for the third chemo. Definitely will do it for the 4th! Here's more information about glutamine.
It was so nice to do something normal - going out for breakfast on the weekend. I didn't give a thought if the cooking smells were going to affect me. In fact, I sort of forgot about them! Doesn't mean I was able to taste all of the food, but I ate and the gut didn't revolt.
The restaurant is right across the street from my work. I felt good, the brain was pretty clear, so I worked a few hours on a project. My fellow breast cancer coworker arrived and it was good to see her. She has an 8 hour reconstruction surgery this Monday and it was great to give her a hug and wish her well. We've talked before about which one of us has it worse on the cancer journey and we each feel the other does. :-) I had a lumpectomy, chemo and will do radiation. She had a mastectomy, no chemo or radiation, and now reconstruction.
Cancer is a wake up call to take a look at your life. It's like any other major catastrophic life event, you promise yourself that you'll make changes. How many of us keep those changes - make them a habit?
I guess I'm a little reflective right now as we head into another "unknown" situation with Vic. Almost deja vu. What did I tell myself I would change in my life during Vic's adrenal gland tumor/cancer this summer, but haven't? What can I do to make these changes a habit? Or is this something to keep as a goal once treatment (chemo and radiation) is over?
Whatever the answers are, I need to remember this: I am Renee. I am not Cancer.
Peace and blessings to you!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Something that you say which means you will do something that someone else has done because this is fair. You cook dinner tonight, I cooked last night. Turnabout is fair play.
I am sick of me. Sick of this cancer, sick of being sick, sick of having a focus on my life that I don't want. I want to look outside of me. And you can help!
Since you are reading this, I want to hear from you. Remember, Santa is coming and he knows who is naughty and nice and who doesn't respond. Turnabout is fair play. Tell me the two top great things in your life. If you want, tell me one thing that isn't so great. Tell me one funny you did this week or month. That's just 3 or 4 things. Come on! You can do it!You can do this anonysmously, anonysmously but typing your name at the end of your entry, with a Google email account, or just your name.
I look forward to looking out instead of in. . . turnabout is fair play.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Here’s another new word: dysgeusia. Taste changes also know as dysgeusia, may occur with mucositis especially if the tongue is involved. Since the taste buds on the different areas of the tongue recognize sweet, sour, and bitter, these may also be heightened or distorted. Some people experience a metallic taste in their mouths when mucositis is present.
Here’s a nifty website for prevention of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. Isn’t that a lovely phrase?
Can you tell I’m bored? I feel like I should be thankful for some things, health insurance, a good job, finding the cancer early, yada, yada, yada. Yet, I’m having challenges today finding the thankfulness. Isn’t it strange that when we are busy, and not bored, that our life just flies by? How often did I wish for some free time to get caught up on projects? Here is my “free” time but the brain and body's motor is so slow. Oh, well. This too will pass.
Today, again, has been a challenge to find something that I can eat or drink. I do feel weak because of lack of liquids and nutrition. I’m trying lemon water to help with the mucositis – so far so good; it’s staying down. Here’s what I tried to eat today. Remember I said I was bored? If you are reading this far, I am happy to share the boredom with you. Please, God, let me go to work tomorrow!
Muffin – what was that mystery flavor?
Green Tea x 2 – semi okay, not too nausea-inducing; all other herbal teas – gag!
Burrito – spiciness didn’t work; saved for Vic
Chicken/Cranberry Salad w/Saltines (Vic picked up at Costco). Not bad, not good, but it stayed down (well sort of)
Slim Fast – plug the nose and chug it fast
Peanuts, almonds, cashews – how weird tasting were those peanuts! I’ll never be able to describe it nor wish to experience it again anytime in the future
Soft sharp cheddar on saltines – not too bad, just ate it to get the calories, fat and protein. Would Saltines be the common denominator here? Hmmmm, have to think about that.
Quaker Baked Cheddar Snack Mix – the oatmeal squares were pretty good! Think I need another bag. Pretzels – ick . . slimy. How can pretzels be slimy?
Ravioli with spinach & mozzarella – What was I thinking? Cooked spinach? Barf-o; saved for Vic (guess he has a little bit of food to eat, eh?)
Apple with soft spread cheese – not too bad, but couldn’t eat the whole thing
Ham and potato scallop prepared by Laura and Christy’s loving hands – heating up right now. It sure looks good!
Praying for the strength to get dressed tomorrow to go to work. Even if I just sit there and stare at people, I will be around, well, people. As much as I love my cats, they just don't cut it on these days.
Hugs to you all!
P.S. I just heard from the oncology nurse. My goal is to drink a shot glass of liquid every 30 minutes - to stave off the dehydration. Now, she didn't say exactly WHICH liquid to drink, hee hee hee. But I believe I'll stick with the lemon flavored water.
Another tidbit of advice for all you cancer patients or caregivers out there . . . .make Jello and pour into an ice cube tray. Each "ice cube" is 1 oz. And that's all one has to get down every 30 minutes. No, we aren't talking Jello shots. I think I'll dial it back a bit and concentrate on the liquids.
P.S.S. Vic just got home and said his doctor should have the ultrasound results tomorrow.
I've read this before, but now that I have cancer, it means that much more. Cancer Rant on Craigslist.com. Gotta love it!
Monday, November 17, 2008
We knew that the chemo can have accumulative affect, but since #2 went so well, we didn't suspect it was going to be like this. The cognitive stuff is amazing to feel and watch from this end of the camera. Is this what Alzheimer's or dementia feels like?
I am having trouble eating and getting anything down - everything tastes terrible. I need some nutrition in order to get well. Even liquids taste yuck. It's been a challenge today, to say the least. Vic did work from home today. Bless his heart he's been trying to give me things to drink/eat without much success.
I guess this is just one of those days that happen in this journey. It could be worse. But it still sucks.
Vic has his ultrasound tomorrow after work. Not sure how long it will take to receive the results. We are praying that it isn't anything!!! Please join us!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Marinol making me feel extremely weird.
That's it for today, I think.
This totally sucks. I am not going to clean upmy typos because it shows how my brain is working. Which is 't well. This totally sucks! I am totally useless, an't think, can't bput two entences togetr to make a complete paragraph in trying to talk to Vic. Vic mau hae t stay home with me tomorrow because it is that bad.
I forget to eat but then nothing I want to eat tastes good. I forget t drink which I have to do beause of one chemo drug will kill my body parts. Okay not really kill, but my bladder I don't want affected.
To go from such a high feeling week of Week# 3 for Chemo 2, this is the botom. Yes, I am thankfl - it could be worse. It culd be the nausea and crap from the first Chemo. But this is't fun either. One more treatment that's all I hadve. But it doesn't feel like I'm going to make it t then.
I am thankful for Laura and Christy cooking so many meals. I hope to be able t taste them soon! Given Vic's "uncomfortableness", we can use some help if you live near by. Please see link in upper right of page. Thanks, gang!
Hope to talk to you coherently soon. Peace
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Rough morning with aches from the Neulasta shot, stomach still messed up and nausea. Lots of hot and cold situations. Too much clothes on then too little. It's a never ending battle the past few days on how to get the temperature correct. I think it is the steroids doing it.
The finale was the taste buds are going, going, gone again. Wasn't that too fast compared to the other 2 treatments? It's a challenge to find something to eat. No eat and no drink, makes fatigue and a cranky patient.
Here's a pic of us 3 with Christy's two daughters and Laura's son.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Found out that they do not give the Neulasta shot after my last chemo in December. I am NOT going back into a neutropenia! I've asked them to receive a preauthoriziation from the insurance company. Their argument should be how low my white blood counts got without the shot. I don't want to spend Christmas all yucky.
I'm surpried that the Neulasta is working so quickly! My chest bones are hurting already.
Taste buds are fading fast. I think this is a first!
Here's to having a good night's sleep! Vic and I both need it!
Here's my cat . . . .he likes to jump on the bed and snuggle. No meowing for him!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Successful chemo treatment – no problems with the port access. We were both very tired since we were up late last night and woke up at 4:30 am. Before treatment begins, they give me two Benadryl and three Zofran – both sleep-inducing drugs. Needless to say, it was hard to keep the eyes open.
Since the taste buds have come back quite a bit, we stopped at Jimmy Mac’s to have my favorite meal – steak with blue cheese. Oh yeah! And their heavenly fresh rolls with honey butter. Yum, yum, yummy! Calorie-laden and high fat meal, but who cares. I don’t eat enough during the first week, so it makes it up in my mind.
As hard as I try to give my fear to God and push away the negative thoughts of recurrence, the fear of it is always lurking in the back of my mind. Women who have had my same cancer and same treatment – lumpectomy plus radiation and chemotherapy - have gone onto metastasis. No one dies because they have cancer in their breast. They die because the cancer either spreads or comes back somewhere else (bones, liver, brain). When it reaches other organs (metastasis), it makes treating the cancer that much more difficult to treat. Some people live a long time with cancer in other organs, but have frequent testing and chemo. I think most, if not all, cancer patients think about this.
My stomach is a mess. Not sure if it still is the steroids or if it is nausea . . or maybe the lunch? I’m still full! The steroids are taken to prevent allergic reactions to the chemo drugs. I don’t think I will have any. If I do. . eh! So, I’m stopping them. Gonna try TB's recommendation (wink).
Vic had a MRI scan before his surgery in August. Results came back with something in his groin area and liver. Surgeon for the adrenal gland cancer said not to worry about it. Vic has recently had some pain in the groin – but didn’t tell me! Didn’t want me to bet worried with all that I have going on. People really need to realize that I can handle bad news . . . it helps me get out of “me world.” Vic spoke with his internist today and he will have an ultrasound to see what is going. Please pray that it isn’t anything!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Just some random thoughts before chemo.
It's 11:15 pm. I'm tired, but have had a nasty stomach ache and sweats since taking the morning steroids. It never got better through the workday despite two deadlines. I could have tried to pass one off to a co-worker, but didn't. Stubborn? No, wanted to spare my co-workers the usual extra work that this week brings for them.
After taking the 2nd does of steroids, the stomach is even worse. This is worse than the nausea after the 1st chemo. At least with that, I had anti nausea pills and would go to sleep. I took one of those MJ pills and it killed the ache somewhat. I should have gone to bed when it eased off, but noooooo, I decided to stay on the Net to read other people's blogs and comment.
My Rock is the best. I've noticed that he enters into a "mode" the night before chemo and continues until it appears that my energy level is up and no weird side effects are happening. This mode is his "caretaker" mode. And he does it with no complaints.
I woke up this morning to find he started our chemo chart. He highlighted the steroids that I was to start this morning. He picked up the anti nausea pills tonight from the drug store without being asked. He just did it. I wasn't going to ask him anyway as I was going to pick them up tomorrow on the way to chemo. He cooked dinner - concerned about the odors, searing the Jamaican Jerk chicken outside on the BBQ. He washed dishes and didn't want help. He's the best.
But he is in bed telling me to shut it down. So I will obey him. I do this sometimes. And sometimes I argue. That's another rambling thought so I'll stop before I type whatever comes to the top of the brain.
Yep I did write "strart" when I meant "stop". Okay, I wrote "strat" when I meant to write "start". I don't believe in chemo brain for 2 out of 4 treatments. Not possible. It's the stomach ache.
Many, many blessings and good health to you and your house!
P.S. Have you had your Vitamin D levels checked? Have you scheduled your mammogram?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
One of my job duties is taking the minutes for City Council committee meetings. Something which I haven't been able to do since August? September? It feels like forever, but then this cancer journey feels like it has been forever too.
Last night was my first time for taking the minutes and it felt good to do it. . even tho I was a little rusty. Given that I usually come home so exhausted at 5 pm, I was definitely tired last night and this morning since the meeting didn't adjourn until 7:45 pm. But it wasn't a horrible tired.
Today was a good day again and very busy (for me). Even tho I was tired, it was great to meet up with Toni and her friend for lunch (Toni is one of the followers of this blog and a great supporter!). Toni and I have been on-line gin-playing friends since about 2002 or 2003. She flew to Washington from California to visit her childhood friend and it was great to meet her in person. Thanks for lunch and a great fellowship time!
After lunch, I had the pleasure of a blood test to ensure that my counts are where they should be in order to have Chemo #3 on Thursday. I also had my first check of the surgical area and things looked good in that area. I forgot to tell the nurse about the eye pressure after the two treatments. Will have to remember to tell the doctor and oncology nurses on Thursday.
I was able to get in for a massage after the pre-chemo check. . . and life is good.I wanted to share with you some other blogs I follow. These women also have Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). Their blogs are on CarePages, which requires you to sign-up in order to read them, but well worth it. Even tho you don't know these ladies, they can certainly use words of support and care - so please leave a note on their blog.
For those prayer warriors, please pray for every TNBC previvor in the world.
Hugs to all! Be back to you after chemo on Thursday.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I've had a few nights of not being able to turn the brain off - thinking about the next chemo. We had a fairly good experience last time so I have no idea why it's coming up at night.
I do notice that now that I am taking 20 mg of Melatonin, I toss and turn for 3 hours. I've seen 1:15 am on the clock more times than I want. One would think that a higher dose (3 mg is normal) would make me sleepy. It did the first two nights.
My hair is still sticking around - I'm not 100% bald. Quite a few strands fall out when I shampoo or run my hands through it. I got tired of this and last Saturday I removed those slow moving hair strands with duct tape. Yep, that's right. Duct tape. I have alot of white hair. In fact, some have grown! Go figure. I'm thinking I should dye it . . .maybe bright pink?
I continue to struggle with what to wear on the head for work. I like hats but they are too hot to wear at work. I feel like an old cancer patient with scarves that are tied behind the head. And I'm a clutz as to doing some fancy work on tying them any other way. I have found a lady who makes pre-tied scarves and bandanas. I wear this one the most. In fact, she made some larger ones for my large head. I highly recommend Mary Ann at CJ Hats!
Hope you have a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
On Sunday, Vic and I each made a soup to eat and to freeze and both had onions. Vic prepped the onions and put my portion aside. I felt great all day and started my soup about 2 pm. Soup was on and flavors melding at 3 pm, when all of a sudden, nausea rolled in. Okay, didn't roll in . . . .pounced on me. The onions were making me nauseous! And here I had just sauteed them and was feeling fine! Go figure.
I thought I had gained back my taste buds yesterday. Whooo weeeee, let's get some real food, honey! We went out to dinner to Mongolian Grill . . nothing fancy, real forks and close to home. When I got near the onions, guess what happened? Yep, nausea, but not bad. Just breathed through the nose and moved on. However, half way through eating dinner, a cloud of fatigue rolled on me (not pounced) from the top of my head and slowwwwwly down to my toes. It was the weirdest feeling. Luckily that food re-warms well.
I will take these sporadic nausea and fatigue clouds, given where I was after Chemo 1, Day 12.
Lesson learned - Insist on receiving Neulasta after your first chemo. Neulasta is expensive ($4,000-$7,000) but the difference in your recovery from chemo is like night and day! Besides, what does it cost to spend the night or two in the hospital for neutropenia?
Cancer and the treatment sure teaches you to live one day at a time. For those who know me, truly know me, that is not in my natural nature. I am at peace with not being able to plan too far in advance and surprisingly, rolling with the punches.
Blessings to you and yours,
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thank you Darcie, Tamie, Elizabeth and the anonymous City of Auburn employees who donated their sick leave so I can continue to have a paycheck.
Thank you to Carolyn, Bobbie, Heather, Elizabeth, Darcie, Kirsten and the other Planning & Building Department staff for stepping in to cover my job duties.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Looking back at my notebook for where I was on Chemo 1, Day 9 - I am so blessed to be doing so well. That was the night of the shaking chills and fever . . . and the beginning of my stubbornness of NOT going to the hospital. Who me? Stubborn? Say it isn't so!
I continue to have "issues" in certain areas but all are manageable. Due to these issues, I haven't worked a full 8 hours a day this week. It just gets frustrating at times to "have" to deal with them. I refuse to get into the "why me" because it serves no purpose. It is what it is - deal with it. I can say that now, but there were a few times right after diagnosis and surgery that I thought I would not stop crying.
Tonight has been an emotional night for me. Yes, there was/is crying. Imagine! One of the members of my on-line support group was just diagnosed with cancer cells in her cerebral spinal fluid. She has the same subset of cancer as I, and four years after her treatment was finished, they found the cancer in her lungs. Now this. Please pray for Caryn. She is a tough fighter and her faith will get her through this to NED (No Evidence of Disease).
I heard from a high school friend tonight. It was the opportune time that I received his email. If you know me, but haven't made a blog posting or emailed me, please do.
Hugs and peace,