Friday, August 29, 2008

Look Out Weekend

Aug 29

After I received the phone call from my super supervisor that I could not return to work on Friday, I realized it was probably the best thing for me to NOT go to work. The little elevation of stress from the frustration in dealing with HR and medical people increased the stabbing pain in the breast incision. If that wasn't a wake up call to listen to my body, I guess a sledge hammer instead of a knife stabbing will be needed next time.

As many of you know I can find humor in places where there isn't humor to others. Today I am chuckling because of what I said last night. As we were preparing to eat dinner, I started crying (imagine that) because of the day's frustration, not having enough food or liquids during the day and not staying on top of the pain. Vic came over to give me a hug and I blubbered, "I'm so sorry I have cancer." Huh? I'm sorry I didn't put gas in the car and you ran out and had to walk in a snow storm in your sandals to the gas station, but I'm sorry I have cancer?

Okay, I think it's funny now.

Vic says he is feeling stronger. He finds it weird that his stomach hurts when he sneezes. Maybe I need to remind him he had abdominal surgery?

One of my colleagues from the bank returned my email last night and it was super great. I haven't heard from many former coworkers and it was hurting just a tad. One of the things I've had to learn quickly on this road trip is that not everyone is capable of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. And that's okay. I will enjoy just hearing from you and the cancer word never has to enter our conversation!

Just heard from the surgeon's office. . . the tumor board does recommend re-excision. That means more surgery and recuperation again. Date will be set when I see them next Wednesday. It should be easier in that I won't have the pain from the other 2 incisions.

Given that, I am declaring this Labor Day weekend "No Thinking of Cancer Day" weekend. I won't post to this blog until Wednesday night. Please join us in celebrating life, finding one thing each day to be thankful for and organizing one of your closets (lol Just had to throw that in).

Hugs and smoochies!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Isn't it Taco Thursday?

Aug 28

The doctor signed my return to work slip - kind of like school days where your mom gave you a permission slip to go back to school after you were sick. I am going back tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday for 5 hours. It will be good to get away from the house and back to normal. Wish it was back to normal before cancer! HR needs more info since I'm not going back full time. I've left a message yesterday and today for the surgeon's scheduler/assitant to fax over this additional info. If they don't call back and fax info, then I don't go in tomorrow. Sigh! Waiting teaches one patience, right?

Update: Due to the wording that the doctor "updated" the return to work form, I am not going back until Wednesday after my appointment with her. I agree with what she said stamina is not back up to 100% and I still have pain from the incisions.

Some have asked me, "How are you REALLY doing?"

Answer: Surgery is over and recuperation is well on it's way; pain is less today than it was yesterday. This was the first hurdle that was causing the most stress. Just waiting, now, to find out if more surgery is needed. It is a total waiting game; right now, we can't plan a week in advance. So we just plan for tomorrow and that's okay.

I do have my moments where I cry . . sometimes the great big gulping, can't-catch-my-breath, kind of crying like when my father died. I try to hide these moments from the girls and Vic, but sometimes they come over me so quickly that I can't stop them.

Vic drew a diagram of the tumor with extra tissue to share with you all. But! He needs to clarify it for me with words. lol Vic is doing well, getting back into the swing of working. I've encouraged him to find a support group for caregivers either in-person or on-line. I put links at the bottom of the main page of two blogs I've found written from the man's perspective. I hope you check them out.

Recently I found this video and have watched it daily since. Please take a moment to view it too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You Gotta Have Friends

August 27

Breast cancer is not just one form of cancer, but many different "subtypes" of cancer. These subtypes of breast cancer are generally diagnosed based upon the presence, or lack of, three "receptors" known to fuel most breast cancers: estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The most successful treatments for breast cancer target these receptors that are positive with “anti-hormone therapy” or “anti-estrogen therapy” pills. Mine are in the “lack of” subtype, aka Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).

TNBC means that the tumor is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative, thus giving rise to the name "triple negative breast cancer." Because of its triple negative status, however, triple negative tumors do not respond to the anti-hormone therapy – usually only to chemotherapy. Depending on the stage of its diagnosis, TNBC can be particularly aggressive, and more likely to recur than other subtypes of breast cancer.

Because of the high recurrence for TNBC, and if I had/have the BRCA hereditary gene, serious thought was given to having a mastectomy on both breasts (bi-lateral mastectomy). I haven't spent time on geneaology since my surgery, but it sure would be nice to find some living relatives to include them in the free gene testing!

Why is TNBC so important? Researchers have identified treatment for hormone-fueled cancers – which is the pill. The research on TNBC is fairly new. Women who were diagnosed with TNBC 5 or 6 years ago have frequent recurrences. Remember, I am not a doctor, but a TNBC person who researches to gain understanding to prepare for discussions with physicians. This is my life, and I need to have a say in it and not just “yes, okay doctor”. Many women who belong to No Surrender Breast Cancer Support and the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
have had to show their medical oncologists information from the web. Why? Because even tho we are sub-typed as TNBC, we are all unique individuals. Some treatment may work well for some and not for others.

I have to remind myself of this – that we are all unique individuals – and respond differently to surgeries and medications. I have not been released to work and have been comparing myself to my co-worker. She had a single breast mastectomy, which to me is much more than the surgery I had. She will not have radiation or chemotherapy and can take the “anti-hormone” pill for 5 years. Yet she was able to return herself to work within 1.5 weeks. I’m not sure if her doctor approved, but given the lack of pay and concern about insurance as she also was a new employee – same as my concerns – she may have felt that she had to go back.

My doctor prefers that I go back to work after I see her next Wednesday. I am trying to manage the pain today with Tylenol. . . .after my morning oxycodone acetaminophen cocktail. So far so good but I’m also staying down and not “thinking” (lol) or moving around like I would at the office. If it goes well today, I will see about returning to work tomorrow or Friday.

If you want to read up on the chemotherapy drugs that I will be taking very shortly – Docetaxel and Cytoxan – here is a good website: You’ll need to scroll down a bit to find the lovely side effects of these two drugs. When people were asked what was worse – cancer or chemotherapy – it’s no surprise that chemotherapy won.

Just as I “geared up” for the surgery with everyone’s prayers and support, we will be gearing up for the chemo portion of this journey very, very soon. The incisions need to heal first, and should more surgery be required, this will be pushed back. I am finding the old hymns that we sung eons ago at People's Church in Fresno come to my brain at each start of the journey. . . What a Friend We Have In Jesus is this leg of the journey’s mantra. But Peter will be with me as well during the infusions.

As Bette Midler's song, Friends, goes:
But you got to have friends.
The feeling's oh so strong.
You got to have friends to make that day last long.
I had some friends but they're gone, somethin' came and took them away.
And from the dusk 'til the dawnhere is where I'll stay.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Purple Haze

Aug 26

It's 10:34 pm and I should be asleep or passed out. I've taken more pain meds since seeing the doctor this morning than I have at any other time during the recuperation. Not sure what's going on.

Vic and I went to the surgeon's office so she could see the hematoma and we could go over the pathology report. She looked at the three incision areas and said things looked good but she could see all the bruising that took place as some is clearing up.

I told her about the weird feeling I had yesterday when I was combing my hair. I reached up too far, pain flared up and when I put my left arm down, it felt like the port didn't go back in place. It was just the weirdest feeling . . and of course I can make myself so nauseous just thinking about the port and the incisions. She pressed around the port site and it was a little uncomfortable. She was compassionate about my "wigginess" of having a foreign object in my body so close to the surface of the skin - the first time I've seen or felt this from her.

Picture the ta-ta like a clock, with the small hand on the 3 and the big hand on the 6. This little pie-shaped area was completely purple. The surgeon didn't think it was an infection as the actual incision wasn't red; however, the royal purple is now a lovely shade of mauve. And, it was very, very uncomfortable when she was pressing around to feel the hematoma. Okay, more than uncomfortable. I had my toes a wiggling and the face scrunched up doing the Lamaze breathing.

Before her touching the ta-ta, the stabbing pain had reduced considerably, but I still needed to "support" it with my hand. It's that jell-o jiggle that hurts even tho I'm wearing a bra 24/7. After her touching, I sooooo needed a pain pill but they were at home. Note to self: keep those things in your purse!

We talked about the pathology report. The tumor was smaller than they originally thought - it was 1.3 cm. This is the part that I don't understand 100%, so I need Mr. Pathology (aka Vic) to explain it again and draw a picture. When they remove the tumor, they take extra tissue surrounding the tumor. When the tumor and tissue is sent to the pathology department, they look to see if there are zero cancer cells in that extra tissue. They found some non-invasive cancer cells in a very small area of the extra tissue.

What it means is they will either do more surgery and remove more tissue or the radiation may get these cells. I'll post more info tomorrow about this once it is clear in my brain. BTW - the pain meds are starting to kick in so it's time for me to shut it down.

Given the pain level of the hematoma area, and the need for pain meds, plus holding my ta-ta as I walk around, the doc has not cleared me for work. She would like me to stay off until I see her next Wednesday. I can't do that financially, so if I use zero meds tomorrow, I will try to go into work on Thursday.

I sure wish the company would tell me in plain English if I can use donated sick leave. Is it because they don't want employees to abuse the system/procedure? I know I wouldn't as I can't stand to be home all the time doing nothing - especially now that Vic is back at work. I must be starting to feel well as some of the clutter is starting to bother me :-).

Over and out. . . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing In The Margins

Aug 25

Pathology report came back with good news and some other news. I'm not calling the "other news" bad news.

The sentinel lymphnode came back negative. This is huge!
Since the job of the lymph nodes is to filter out "bad guys" like cancer cells, this is the first place doctors look for breast cancer cells that have escaped the original tumor and are trying to go elsewhere in the body. The presence or absence of cancer in the lymph nodes is one of the most important things they use to determine the best treatment plan. If cancer cells are breaking away from the tumor and traveling to other areas via the lymph system, the sentinel lymph node is more likely than other lymph nodes to contain cancer.

Tumor measured 1.3 cm - which is good!

They found "non-invasive" cells close to the margins, aka edge of the tissue they took out.
Which isn't good because it could mean more surgery. The doctors will discuss it at the tumor registry board this Friday. Nothing was mentioned about the "bar bell" (see previous blog entry). We were wondering if these non-invasive cells were part of the bar bell. We have a follow-up appointment tomorrow morning from this weekend's ER visit . . . . surgeon wants to see the hematoma. We'll discuss then about when, and if, this second surgery may take place.

However, Vic has the same question I have -- why can't the chemo and radiation get these extra cells that are close to the edge of the tissue? The doctors may recommend more surgery, but that doesn't mean we have to do it. Something to think about for sure. I need to get back to work and missing more time with surgery isn't in the schedule.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Singin' In the Rain

Aug 24 (updated)

We are here! Just doing the recuperation thing, sleeping when we can, remembering to eat so the pain meds don't cause issue(s) and writing down when we take the pain meds because we forget. lol I walked to the end of the street twice, just trying to get the stamina back up so I can go to work.

I am going to the doctor tomorrow as I am having some pains in the breast that weren't here before. I called the resident on duty at 1 pm and he said we could come in today. I have chosen not to - unless it gets extreme. Rather, I'll do the 20 minutes of ice and increase the pain meds (as if I am not gorked enough).

Vic did something "vic-like" yesterday . . . . he mowed the yard. I guess he forgot that he is still recuperating from his surgery as well. Last night and today he said he didn't feel all that great, saying that his stomach feels like he did one too many sit-ups.

I realize that there are going to be "those" days during this journey. And that's okay. This has taught me not to sweat the small stuff, dial it back when things get to be too much. So what if there are newspapers on the floor and company is coming over. I can chose to run around picking up and being sick while you are at my house. Or I can overlook the newspapers on the floor and enjoy our time together. You can help me with this, right? And when you offer to help, I will say yes. We will need your help as we cannot do this alone. And you'll remind me of this right?

Christy and family came over yesterday, bringing the prepared meals. They also helped to pick up some things around the house. Something so little as picking up items and putting them away is such a HUGE help to me right now! Thank you to Aunt Peg and Mary Ellen and Chuck & Sandy for the gorgeous flowers.

5 pm
I gave up on trying to handle the breast pain and went to the ER. We had put ice on the port incision and the breast incision for 4 hours, and I had increased the pain meds . . . but no success on lowering the stabbing pain.

Virginia Mason was awesome. The surgical resident covering for my surgeon said that he would work it so I wasn't in ER forever like a regular walk-in. And he did it! I walked in, went into an exam room and he had 2 surgical residents/interns there in less than 15 minutes. They took a look and determined that there wasn't an infection . . . just a lot of bruising aka hematoma. I'm very, very royally purple! So more ice and more pain meds and adding Tylenol. I'll do anything to get the pain to decrease so I can get back to work in order to save my leave hours.

Vic will be working from home tomorrow to help with me. I am attending a Look Better . . . Feel Good program tomorrow as well ( It's a service from American Cancer Society.

We will have a link to a website where you can see what needs Vic and I have. If you are able to help, it will be geatly appreciated!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Aug 22

I am in pain. I am nauseated because of the pain meds. I hate this. The port hurts. I can only sleep on my back, can't lay on my side at all. Today has been a fog of pain meds and finding food.

My colleagues sent a card and a gift. As I said before, they are the best! Vic got teary-voiced as he was reading some of the words of support. I couldn't read because of the pain meds. Is my dear husband "dealing" with my cancer?

Daughter Jenn had a melt down Wednesday night after my surgery. She was holding her breath and can now breathe she says. Sound familiar in one of my blogs about breathing? I am worried about her. I am worried about Christy. Are they able to deal with their mom's cancer? I wish they would tell me.

My brother and sister-in-law were here on Sunday. I needed to see family as it kept me busy. They have purchased some of the Dinner's Ready-type meals and Christy will put together for us tomorrow. Thank you Mike and Steph! We really need the meals as it wasn't something I got to on my "checklist before surgery".

Cancer is expensive, just in case you want to know.

Vic supports my wish to have a wig of my own hair. It is costly, close to what our mortgage is. But if it makes me feel better about me and cancer, I want to do it and he supports it. As he said, he is a man and can't relate to a female losing her hair.

We don't know if the health insurance company is paying for the genetic testing - $3200. In fact, we may have to pay my health insurance premiums if I go on "leave without pay" status for too long. That's $1100 a month. Now isn't that silly? What part of "leave without pay" gives anyone the idea that we would have the money to pay the $1100 a month premium?

I am hoping that tomorrow is a better day and I can cut down on the pain meds. Days like this are expected during this journey. And it's okay.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shower The People

Aug 21

Can't write much as the pain pills are in the system, but I wanted to let you know that I am doing pretty good. Last night I slept in 2 hour increments, getting up to drink liquids and eat something. I didn't want a pain pill as I was very nauseous. Kind of silly since I was in some pain, but I wanted to find out if it was the meds that was making me sick.

Yesterday, I did not take my advice that I give to others . . . . .eat every 2 hours and drink lots of fluids. Bad me! Vic did go this morning to get a few things that I thought I could eat and I've been doing my best to eat something and drink fluids.

He is such a great husband and caregiver! Even tho he isn't 100% back to normal, he is helping me out so much. He is bringing me the pills and food since I forget what time I ate or took the last pain pill. Vic helped with my shower after my nap at 3:30 pm. I feel like I have run a marathon . . who would have thought that eating and washing could take so much energy.

I did peek at the incisions and sutures. . ewww. The lymph to the right of the right breast, kind of under the arm pit, is about 3-4". The port on the left side of the chest between the breast and the shoulder, is about abut 1.5". The ta-ta incision on the right is about about 3". I didn't really want to look at the breast but I did. And I cried. We will trust that the tissue will reshape and fill in a bit. The pain is suprisingly not from the breast inciscion, but rather the lymph node and port, with the port being the most uncomfortable.

It has taken me 45 minutes to write this as I keep dozing off. So guess I should get off the computer and just give in to the sleep.

I love you all and I can't say it enough how much I appeciate your support!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peace Like a River

The day is finally coming to a close. (Vic writing)

When the surgeon said that everything went as planned and the node was clear, Jennifer (daughter) and I both broke into tears of joy and relief. It felt for the first time, that Renee was one step ahead of the cancer.

We finally got to see her in recovery around 4:30 and she was ready to be released. So by 5 we were on the road home. A slow miserable trip with the traffic and rain, we got home around 6:30. Renee is doing well so far and if I can keep her medicated (emphasis on medicated) and fed, we should have a pretty good night.

Renee asked me to share with you the following:

"Peace Like a River" was sung in the Skybridge, outside of the hospital while she was pacing, in the restroom, when she was in the operating prep room, and as they were wheeling her into the first operating room (she doesn't think she did it as she was wheeled into the surgery room - (we may have to ask the doctor).

She did joke with the hospital staff throughout. (What else do we expect?)

She didn't cry and weep as she has done in previous surgeries. A few tears of frustration in the waiting room waiting and waiting, and a few tears in the recovery room when she peeked at the breast and saw the missing tissue.

And best of all - one poke of a needle for the IV and that was it!

You prayer warriors rock!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

At the Hospital #4

Aug 20, 3:15 PM (Vic writing)

Surgery is over.

The surgeon said everything went according to plan with no surprises. She feels the tumor was completely removed and the sentinel lymph node was clear on frozen section. We should have the detailed Path report by Monday. We should be able to see Renee in about an hour.

At the Hospital #3

Aug 20, 1:30 PM (Vic writing)

Virginia Mason has a unique patient monitoring system. As the patient checks in they are assigned a unique patient number. There is a large flat panel monitor in the waiting room that is updated when the patient goes to prep or surgery has started. At 12:58 Renee's surgery has officially started. I have a vibrating pager like the restaurants use to notify me when the surgery is over.

At the Hospital #2

This is Vic writing. Starting around 10:30 Renee kept threatening to walk out and I can't really blame her. This has been the morning from Hell. Finally at 11:30 they called her name. Now it is a new waiting game. At best she should be going to surgery between 12:30 to 1. The surgery itself is expected to take an hour and then the recovery time. If we get out of here by 5 it will be a miracle. I'll keep you updated with any new info.

At the Hospital #1

Aug 20 8:30 am

We arrived at 7 am and were asked the question, "Why are you here so early?" Hmmm, let me see. I like getting up early, drinking 16 oz of water and starving. Yup, that's it!

It's amazing what one little snafu in the scheduling can do. Someone put down that I had an ultrasound at 7:30 am. The ultrasound will happen while I am IN the operating room. They have asked us to come back at 9:30 am, but we are just hanging out in the lobby.

I've given Vic my password and hope that he will update the blog sometime between 12 noon and 6 pm.

Let the journey being!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Be Thou My Vision

Aug 19 - 7 pm

It's been a long day and we are tired, so this will be short. I do want to write more about the radio isotopes that were injected into the ta-ta and also Vic's surgery report. It was amazing to read!

I go into the hospital at 7 am, there will be prep time, geiger counter time to find the Sentinal Lymphnode and then to surgery, which will take about an hour. From what they showed us, we believe that surgery will begin about 9 am if all goes well on the surgery schedule. We estimate that we will leave the hospital about 3 pm.

I will say this about the radio isotopes . . . 8 needles. If you haven't read the blog from the beginning, at least read the entry Needles and Pins. You'll know the meaning behind the needles.

But the most important part of this procedure -- I kept the visual of me walking on water looking at Christ....I kept telling myself that the discomfort I was feeling was just the waves. It was fabulosa!

Please pray for a vein that does not collapse when the IV needle is inserted and for the absolute best person to do it in one stick. After that, I will be good and begging for happy medicine.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Aug 19

Yesterday at work, I noticed one gentleman wearing a pink shirt. I thought it was odd as he always wears the denim shirts with the City's logo. Eh, I go back to my work to focus on the things I needed to wrap up.

Someone else came in to my cubicle to share their support, then someone else, then someone else, etc. But something was niggling in my brain but the consciousness wasn't putting it together. I started walking around the office, peeking into cubicles and saw the similarity.. . everyone was wearing a pink shirt, clothing or tie. My colleagues were showing a quiet unity of support! Isn't that the best group of people?

We are heading out in a few minutes for Vic's post-op checkup and my pre-op check ups. I guess you could say we like to be "checked out".

I will write more later, probably short, but at least get the time of surgery on here. We have lots of errands to do after checking out, oh wait, getting checked out that we may get home before 8 pm. Vic will also have my password to the blog and I will ask him to write an update tomorrow after surgery.

My two sweet cousins are calling me at 8 pm tonight (so I have to be home by then) to have a prayer time together. These are two cousins who I haven't regularly talked with over the past 20+ years who have been prayer warriors for us.

Many of you have been prayer warriors as well and I truly, truly appreciate it! I can't respond timely to each of your phone calls or emails, but know that they do mean alot to me. . . .it's what has kept me going! "I can't let these people down" is what I generally tell myself when my focus slips off of Christ as I am walking on the water of tests and treatments.

Today's mantra is Matthew 6:34
So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

Be blessed!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Variant, Schmariant No song for this

August 15

We really need to find some of my father’s living cousins from his mother’s side of the family! I will post a plea out on and any other genealogy link I can find. Family information is at the end of this blog.

I phoned the geneticist this morning to check on the status of the gene testing results. Her assistant called close to 12 noon to schedule an appointment at 3 pm to go over the results. . .they were in. I asked if we could talk over the phone given the “parking lot” that happens on I-5 on Fridays; they said no; they prefer to give the results in person.

It was amazing for me to immediately go into, “oh no, it’s positive; otherwise they would talk to me on the phone”. . .and quickly switching to “walk on the water, Renee”. While I did feel tense and stomach had butterflies, I was okay. It was an answer that we wanted and needed to hear. If it was positive, then we had the time to research plastic surgeons and reconstruction options.

The testing came back as “BRCA1 –no mutation detected” and “BRCA2 – genetic variant of uncertain significance. Therefore, the contribution of this variant to the relative risk of breast or ovarian cancer cannot be established solely from this analysis”.

In other words:

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cause most cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A change was detected in the BRCA2 gene but it is not known if this change is linked to cancer or if the gene runs in my family. The testing company will continue to gather information about genetic variants of “uncertain significance” such as the one identified in my test. If any new information becomes available about my variant, they will notify my geneticist.

Free testing is available to some of my relatives – such as my mom (though that’s not where the gene is thought to come from), or any female relative diagnosed with invasive breast cancer before age 60, or a male relative with breast cancer at any age, or any female relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

An interesting item was that there are 6 previous observations of this gene variant in unrelated families – 1 of Central/Eastern European, 3 of Western European and 2 were not specified.

Lumpectomy on Wednesday is a go!

Vic is doing great. . . .his foot/ankle are back to normal and his face is not swollen. His regular doctor said if his blood pressure is consistently low, he will go back onto some meds he has had before. He has a check up with the surgeons on Tuesday before I go in for radio isotopes.

Here's what I've come up with so far on my grandmother's siblings and my father's cousins. Haven't found any living people yet.


George Washington Fletcher
b. 21 Oct 1860
d. 5 Feb 1930. Kingsley, Iowa
m. Orpha (Orpah) Riddle, b. 1860


b. about 1885

b. abt 1886
m. Florence Atkinson

b. 1887

b. abt 1891
m. Harriet L. Maser or Moser b about 1893

b. 1891
d. 1941
m. Fred Henry on 30 Mar 1910
Daughter: Daisy b. 1914 (lived with George and Orpha per census)

Gertie Nellie
b. 1893
d. 11 Jan 1974, South Dakota
m. Leigh Clark Finch of Madison, SD;
Son: Vern Lee Finch b. 1915 d. 1993;
Daughter: Ruth 1917 b. in SD m. Kenneth V. Billet on 8 Mar 1941
Ruth’s children:
Gregory Scott Billet m. Sharalynn Cordes, Hennepin MN
Michael Alan Billet m. Catherine Laughlin, Hennepin Minnesota

Raymond S
b. 1895
m. Bertha Page
Daughter: Annsola, b abt 1923

Frank R.
b. 4/20/1896
d. 12/1977
m. Martha R. ??

Farsina R.
b. abt 1899
d. 1952
m. Edgar Adelbert Spink;

Son: Vance b. 1923, d. 1990
Daughters: Sicret (or Secret) b. 1920
Margie Lou b.1928, d 1928?

Dora S.
b. abt 1900;
m. Richard V. Bowers;
Verle A. Bowers, b. 1924
Wayne A. Bowers, b 1923
Charles, abt 1929

Mabel Clair
b. 12 March 1901, Battle Creek, Iowa
d. 16 March 1943, Fairfield, Clay, Nebraska
m. Charles Andrew Goosic
George Wray Goosic b. 26 July 1922, died 14 Sept 1984 (my father)
Gerald Goosic b. 1924, d.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Waiting for the Punchline

Aug 14

Big thanks to Christy (daughter) and her daughter, McKenzie, for coming over to help us out! McKenzie proudly wore her intercom phone so grandpa (Vic) could buzz her when he needed something. She sure was proud to do this!

Quick note here . . .it's time for sleep.

Vic is looking good . . . his foot is almost back to normal. He's still a little cranky and tires easily, but that is to be expected after the surgery and then the extra drugs this weekend.

Today he had a really weird episode. He was very cold and very sleepy and fell asleep almost immediately @ 4 pm. When I got home at 5:45 pm, he was still zonked out and freezing. No fever and BP was okay (sorry honey for waking you and making you do your tests) and he slept until 7:30 pm.

I am still waiting for the gene testing. It has to come in before Tuesday! If it doesn't come in by Tuesday, I will have to reschedule the surgery. I'm only doing surgery once. :-)

If it does come in and it is positive, then I have to reschedule surgery for a bi-lateral mastectomy (both breasts off). So it's still the waiting game . . .which I don't do well. lol

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You Sure Look Swell

Aug 11

We had an interesting weekend. Vic's feet and ankles were swollen on Saturday and he was short of breath. He contacted the surgery resident who said we needed to go to an ER. We took him to the local hospital; he had some tests and was given Lasix and pee'd off a gallon of fluid in 3 hours. His feet were less swollen, but not 100% back to normal and he was still short of breath. The ER offered to pack him up and send him to UW (like he's a package?) or he could go home with some Lasix pills. He chose the pills.

He took the required dose on Sunday morning, took a 2nd one a couple hours later (tho he wasn't suppose to) and they didn't work. So back to the ER we go, but to Univ of Washington. We sat in the waiting room for 3 hours. Do you know how many sick people there are in the ER waiting room? Like, really sick? Like, coughing sputum and pucking and breathing? Ewww.

Got back to an ER room at 6:30 pm, had the same tests he had on Saturday in Auburn, but they added a CAT scan, echocardiogram and deep vein thrombosis ultrasound. They were looking for a blood clot since his left foot was much larger than the right. If they were the same size, they could have said it was just post-op edema. But since the surgical side was larger, they entertained the thought that it was a clot.

What's interesting, in hind sight, is that when Vic talked to the surgery resident on Saturday - before our Auburn ER trip - he mentioned having an ultrasound to see if there was a clot. It was mentioned again on Sunday when Vic talked to the resident. So, why didn't the ER doc at UW (who was in contact with the surgery resident) do the ultrasound first - given that the ultrasound dept closes at 7 pm? What a pain that was!

I had a good chuckle about 10 pm - okay to me funny - was that the ER doctor was asked by the surgery resident to check a certain body part of Vic's to see if it was swollen on the left side. Let's see, it was his feet/ankles and a little of his face that were swollen . . .not the middle part. lol Okay, I understand that they were looking to see where the swelling began and stopped. But to me it was funny.

We didn't get to see the surgery resident & surgery "real" doctor until 12 midnight because they were in surgery all while we were waiting in the lobby and in the back. They wanted Vic to be their guest until the ultrasound the next day. And we waited to be their guest. . . .2.5 hours. When we asked a nurse at 2:30 am how long it was to check into their fine hotel, we were told that there had been a shift change and it got missed. BUT! She would get us into a room within 15 minutes and she did!

The surgical floor was full and Vic was put on the orthopedic floor which was great as this floor has the fold out lounge chairs for me to sleep in. The nurses were absolutely wonderful, offered us some food and we dined on cheese, crackers and jello. Food never tasted so good (our last meal was at lunch). And to sleep we went at 3 am.

More tests and more waiting until 4 pm on Sunday when the doctors came in to tell us there was no clot. They also said they had no idea why the one foot was swollen larger than the other; post-op edema is normal. The doc was surprised that Vic's heart wasn't able to pump out all the fluid.

Today, he looks good and says he feels better. The left foot is still swollen, but no where near the size it was on Saturday.

So what did you do this weekend?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sister Golden Hair

Aug 8

Okay, so I've started looking at those halo wigs again. I should be asleep since it is 11 pm.

There has got to be a way that I can take my hair - when I shave it off - and put it onto the ribbons or whatever like the picture shows in the link above.

Hot glue the hair onto a stretchy ribbon? It has to be soft because the head is irritated and sensitive during chemo. Hmmm, gonna have to think about this.

Walk on Water

Aug 8

Borrowing this from one of the gals on Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation ( discussion forum.

Cancer challenges us both physically and spirtually. Peter walked on water (Matt 14:22-33). Treatment, fears and worry are just some of our "waves." God is aware of my storm. He controls the waves, and my job is to stay focused on Him. God willing, this will be just another storm in my life.

Today started out as a tearful day for me. It's Kim, Dawn, Mary Ellen and Judy's fault - I read my email this morning before work, which isn't what I normally do. Their words of support and love just flowed over me. Anytime I read the comments in this blog or emails, you all have brought me to tears.

But I have my vision now. I love the ocean, absolutely love it. It's the place I go to rejuvenate and find peace. I use the imagery of the ocean to help alleviate my negative energy during dental or medical procedures or when sleep eludes me. Waves in the ocean that God is controlling. I love it! Now the key is to keep the focus on Him.

I truly appreciate every one of you who reads this blog, who have sent emails and cards, called and said prayers. Blessings to you!

A World Benign

Aug 8

Vic's tumor is benign!

God continues to answer your and our prayers! First, Vic's surgery was successful with a lapraoscopy. Now, the tumor is benign.

AND, hang on there's more, Vic looks so good for just having major surgery. The swelling in his face is down quite a bit and his tummy is half the size it was. His energy today has been good. He doesn't feel so winded walking from the bedroom to the kitchen . . . .could it be because the fluid is down? I'd say yes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Get Around

Aug 7

Vic is getting around a little bit, but finds that he is tired and out of breath just walking down the hallway. But he doesn't complain and yes, I still hover. Or maybe, I didn't realize how stubborn he is. lol I've shared with him my sage wisdom (don't gag) on how to survive post-ops, like eat something every 2 hours, even if it's just a bite; take the laxatives while taking the pain meds. . .and take the pain meds before you need them!

Vic will call the doc tomorrow to see if the pathology report is ready.

I am flip flopping on the surgery and chemo. I'm wondering if I should have another ultrasound to see if the tumor has grown larger. If it has, then I should do chemo first to shrink it. Am I just anxious to go bald? :-)

However, I have to wait until the BCRA gene testing comes in. Then I get to decide if I want to have a bilateral mastectomy - or just do the lumpectomy. Unfortunately, the results probably won't come in until the day before the lumpectomy. I have to remember that I am in control and I can cancel that surgery anytime I want to, so there!

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I thought I was done with them! It's the fuel behnd the rambling thoughts and stress. I so want this over and be able to sleep through the next 4 months. Wouldn't that be neat? I just go into hibernation and come out in January with it all behind me and 12" of hair. Dreams do come true, sometimes.

Time is running out to get all those things that I thought needed to be done before surgery done. Like cooking meals and freezing them so Vic or I can defrost and nuke. Or get the wig/hats/scarves/whatever purchased while I have energy. Finish organizing the upstairs "junk" room that I started in March or May (seems so long ago). Get the yard weeded and bushes/trees trimmed.

Okay, so we'll back it up a bit and do what we can. Anyone try those Dinners Are Ready places where they make meals and you freeze to serve later? Can I hire a cook/caterer? Can I just not go through this journey? Dang it. I don't want to be brave and strong.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Home, Home on the Range

Aug 6

Vic is home! Thanks to Jen for picking him up at the hospital, he got home about 3 pm today. I didn't write last night as I was dead tired when I got home from the hospital.

I had concerns about the size of Vic's face yesterday and brought it to the nurse's attention. They weighed him and he had gained 22 pounds since Sunday afternoon! So back onto the IV fluids he went to flush out his system.

Not for the squeamish . . . not too bad, but here is a picture of Vic's stomach. He's not THAT big, , , that's still swelling. But check out the blue line. That's where they would have cut if the lapraoscopy did not work! Wowser!

Vic looks pretty darn good for having had major surgery. I knew he'd be a fairly easy patient. Now, I just need to not "hover".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Heart Shaped tumor

Aug 5
1 pm

Finally got to the hospital after a 1.5 hour commute. And I said I love Seattle? :-)

When I got to Vic's room, he was sitting up in side chair, watching TV. He was talkative and looked good. Earlier, Vic had gone for a walk with a walker and the help of a nurse. When I returned from getting some lunch, he was dozing upright in his chair. He was able to get into his bed for a nap without much assistance from the nurse.

What I could get out of him . . .he's a little foggy . . is that they took the entire adrenal gland and the tumor. The tumor was very close to the kidney blood supply so the surgery took longer to avoid him losing that kidney.

The preliminary results should be in today or tomorrow. In fact, his boss (a medical pathologist) signed his get well card, "looking forward to receiving your specimen and more importantly having you back at work". His coworkers stopped by his room in ICU this morning and I just met up with one of them. Phil (coworker had to get me logged onto the wireless Internet) said that when they saw Vic about 10 am, Vic was groggy and out of it. Lot's of pain meds, yeah!!!

Vic is down to one IV (from 2 or 3 IVs). He still has his catheter as his "output" didn't match the "input". They plan to move him to a regular room once he has lunch and a room is ready for him. At 11:30 am and when I left his room at 1 pm, they were still waiting for a menu so he could order lunch. Rules, rules, rules. I offered to just go down to the cafeteria but Vic didn't want to break any rules. That's our Vic!

The plan is that he leave the hospital tomorrow, Wednesday. I'm not too keen on that as there will not be anyone available to stay with him.
Guess it all depends on how he is today and tomorrow.


2:00 pm
He is in his own room! Yippeee!! Took about an hour for the boy to get some food and he's kept it down so far. He is taking the bare minimum of pain meds and he is staying pretty lucid.

We had to monitor his oxygen for a couple of hours and it has now been removed - he's holding steady. Just waiting for the catheter to come out . . . nurse staff change right now (3:30). Once that's out, we'll see if he wants a stroll down memory lane. . . okay, down the hall way.

Tuesday Morning

Aug 5

I called the ICU last night about 8 pm and his nurse said he was doing fine. She handed the phone to Vic; he said he was doing okay. He had rolled from side to side and they were going to get him up to walk.

He actually looked good when I finally got to see him about 4:30 pm. I will find out today why it was 4.5 hours between the end of his surgery and him getting to ICU. Jen and I had no idea where he was or why he was being held, despite our calling ICU every 30 minutes.

I just called the hospital and the nurse said he had a very good night and slept through, despite quite a bit of noise on the hospital floor. Plans are that he will be in ICU until they get him up, get paperwork completed (by the nurse) and his new room is ready.

I am exhausted. :-) As soon as I feel it's safe to drive, I'll head on up to Seattle. We'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sleeping To Dream

Aug 4
7 pm -- Surgery is over; now recovery begins. I don't have all the details right now - but will post them tomorrow.

Surgery started later than I thought it would. The surgery was a little more complicated and took longer than they thought it would.

Vic is in ICU until tomorrow as they regulate his blood pressure. We knew he'd be in ICU because of the medications he has been taking for over a month to lower the pressure because of the pheochromocytoma making the blood pressure high. He has something inside one of his veins that alerts the nursing staff of when the bp goes low - then give him meds to raise it. Likewise, when the bp goes too high, they give him meds to lower it. So he is on a roller coaster right now on getting the bp regulated. I spoke to him briefly. He looked good for someone coming out of major surgery.

I'm off to sleep now as it has been a very long day. I will write more tomorrow when I get back to the hospital to see Vic and to talk to the staff of what happened.

Today's the Day

August 4
4:00 am . . .It's here!! Vic's surgery day is here!!

They had a hard time getting an IV in last night -- think he had about 6 attempts. My poor man! Vic was still very calm, but he's probably like a duck. . . . calm on the surface put lots of activity underneath the water where we can't see.

Thank you so much for your prayers and words of support. We are truly blessed to have such great friends and family.

Stay tuned . . . . . I'm heading to the hospital {yawn}

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rush Rush

August 3
We rushed to Seattle this morning in order to get Vic to the hospital by 12 noon. In his room, the nurse asked why we were there so early given that his surgery isn’t until tomorrow. We shrug. . . we dunno. Vic explains that when he asked the surgery coordinator, they said 12 noon was usually late in the day. Do you think the coordinator meant 12 noon on his day of surgery?

Oh, well. We got to leave and enjoy a bite of Pagliacci Pizza. This restaurant is only in Seattle and the “eastside” of Seattle. Oh yummm!!! This is the good pizza that we crave for in our little town of Auburn.

Vic remains extremely calm and collected. I am okay, a little teary, but what else do you expect from me. This is just another tic on the checklist of things that have to be done before my surgery. It also means that my surgery is growing closer.

Now we are sitting in the hotel, Vic’s reading the paper and I’m doing office work. Got to stay ahead of the leave hours needed for August!

Remember I talked about the HR person earlier (She Works Hard for Her Money. . . have you caught on that all the titles for the blog entries are songs? Lol) My sweet supervisor and co-worker offered to donate sick hours to me so I don’t have to worry about my paychecks for the next 4 months. Well, I spoke with the HR person about my requested leave and brought up the subject about donated hours. HR person replies that a donated hour request would go out to the entire company for someone who has a life-threatening medical issue, anticipates a long recovery, and yada yada. So I don’t know if I qualify to receive donated hours. If I don’t, that means that I have to work when I can’t or don’t feel well enough to ensure that I have income.

Lesson learned: Don’t get cancer or some other non-life threatening medical issue when you are new on the job.

Wig-Wag Bam

August 2
Went looking for wigs today. Too bad we didn't have a camera but since this was a fact finding mission, we'll definitely have one next time! I tried on a few and started to feel a little depressed, but talked myself out of it. No pity parties here. You got cancer, Nee, deal with it. It's not the end of the world!

Seeing some of the hair pieces and hats helped. I will be ordering online and here's some stuff that I've looked at. It's amazing what the beauty (?) world has come up for chemo patients.

Fake Eyebrows:

Exposed head hairpiece: This seemed much much cooler and less itchy than a wig. From what I've read, the scalp is sensitive during chemo and is a little painful. With this hairpiece, I would still have to wear a hat or scarf unless I wanted to scare people. Hmmm, is it Halloween yet?

I just don't see me wearing a hat or scaraf at work but the other altnerative is to go bald, which I won't. Someone at work said maybe we should have a hat day to kick off my first day of wearing a hat. How sweet!!!

I think I'll start wearing hats and scarves to work while I do have my natural hair and before I start chemo. If I waited until I lost my hair, and wore a scarf or hat to work, I would feel like there was a neon sign pointing at me saying, "Look, look, look! She's bald and has cancer!"

I haven't even begun to think or worry about the surgery and chemo. I am trying to focus on what I can control . . . buying hair and a bra or cami to wear after surgery until the incision heals.

Vic goes into the hospital tomorrow (Sunday) to get ready for his surgery on Monday. Yeaah!!!

Pray for success with laparoscopy and guiding the surgeon's hands.