Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Going To Be A Good Week!

After a busy week/weekend last week, I am looking forward to a week of not having much to do! Its so nice to be done running down to the hospital for radiation!

Rachel's shower was very nice yesterday--she got many really nice things. My sister gave the 2 grandmas-to-be a "starter" package with diapers, disposable bibs, and disposable changing pads. I can't wait to use them! My sister-in-law gave me a photo frame to put a pic of my grandbaby in. As soon as I got home I put my aching feet up and rested for awhile!

Shonna starts her college classes tomorrow. She bought her Bethel sweatshirt today. I just might be more excited than she is! Altho she seems to really like it there so far. She's even talking about maybe staying there next year; before she always insisted on going out of state. But its not a cheap college, so we'll have to see what kind of money they want to give her.

My tummy bothered me a lot on Saturday, but I think that's because of some of my food choices. I have to be cautious and introduce new things slowly (like fruits, veggies, and things with fiber). I also had a large meal Friday night, and I'm supposed to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Other than that I feel pretty good!

I'm going to enjoy these good days as much as I can! I hope everyone else is enjoying these last days of summer too!

Love and Blessings!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sadness, and Hope

Yesterday a woman whose blog I had been following died from stage 4 colon cancer. She was only 29 years old and had a wonderful husband and 2 young children. Her name was Kim. This woman was so strong and courageous; she definitely inspires me. I'm glad she's no longer suffering, but so sad for the many, many people that loved her.

When I read that she had died (surrounded by family and friends) it really hit me hard. I knew it would the first time. That was my fear when I first started looking for blogs of others who have cancer. I was looking for information and support, but, obviously, when you are dealing with cancer, sometimes people die. I've never been very good around death; heck, goodbyes make me cry! I'm not sure its something I want to get used to either. I have no idea how oncology nurses and doctors do it; do they ever get used to it?

I am a part of this group that I never wanted to be a part of. Yet, I have to say I'm proud to be amongst some of the strongest people I have ever known. They take you in, encourage you, help you in any way they can, even as they are fighting their own battles.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand why God allowed this to happen to me, but I know I'll never be the same. And my cancer doesn't only affect me, but all those that care about me. We've all grown through this. I've learned just how strong my husband and children are--they are amazing!

I hope I can be of help to others, and enjoy every day that God gives to me--just like Kim.

Love and Blessings,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Am SO Excited To Be DONE!

I did it! I finished my last radiation yesterday! Hopefully it will be the last one I'll EVER have to have!

The doc said he was sorry I had such a rough time. One of the lovely gals that zaps me said they keep track of the treatment # and also the calendar days. She told me that it took 67 calendar days to do my 28 treatments--she said I really had a long haul. The nurse, Donnie, gave me a hug and wished me well for my chemo. I go back to see them in 4 to 6 weeks. Apparently the side effects can last that long, and I have to see them to make sure the side effects are going away. I told Donnie how wonderful they had all been to me, especially the gals that do the procedure. They made me feel very comfortable and not embarrassed at all (they had to see my backside every day!).

This is a really busy week for me! Yesterday after radiation, I took Alyssa out to lunch and then we had to go to a party store for stuff for the baby shower on Sunday. Alyssa also had to buy stuff for the bachelorette party she had for her good friend who's getting married this Saturday.
After that I rested for about 45 minutes and then Shonna and I had to go to Bethel University for Welcome week stuff. We got there around 4 and didn't get home until around 8pm. She got her ID card, we ate supper, then had a meeting for PSEO students. She really liked how nice and helpful everyone was was, and I think she's a little less nervous now. They really stressed that the PSEO students are to think of themselves as Bethel freshmen, because that's what they are!

Today we have to go back to Bethel for a family picnic and to get her books. She also wants to buy a sweatshirt. Then I think she has an activity with her "core group", so we'll have to drive separately.

Tomorrow I'll have to finish getting things ready for the shower. I'm excited for it! So is Rachel!

I've been busy this morning going thru mail and papers that have piled up on the table. Its so nice to have this time to get things done, and feel well enough to do it!

After what I've been thru with radiation, I'm not as worried about starting chemo again. For awhile the thought of all those months of feeling sick had me really nervous. But the thought of laying around feeling nauseous all day doesn't seem as scary to me now. I don't remember it being as bad as all the pain and hospital stays I've had with radiation. Radiation was SUPPOSED to be a piece of cake--yeah, right. :)

Love and blessings to all!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Decided to Go Through With It!

Well, I had a radiation treatment today. So only 2 left! I'm a little worried about doing the last 2, because my bowels hurt a little more today. So, we'll just have to wait and see what I decide tomorrow!

When I saw my doc (Dr. B) today, he said he thinks we should quit, but then he said he knows Rich and I really want to finish this. He said there is no right or wrong answer here. He told me my last CT scan (from the night before I went into the hospital when I went to the ER) looked "remarkable" and when I asked him what that meant he said the walls of the lower bowel were quite thickened. But we don't know if that's from the radiation or the C-diff infection. So, after talking some more he said he was willing to give it a try. He also called my oncologist(Dr. J.) to let him know what we decided, and he was ok with it too. I hate "gray" areas! I'm am such a black and white person! I wish Dr. B could have said its definitely ok to have the last 3 treatments, or its not ok--none of this "we don't really know" crap. I really don't want to cause permanent damage to my bowels, but I want to reduce my risk of the tumor coming back as much as possible. Well, I hope I made the right decision--I prayed about it before, during and after the treatment, so its in God's hands now!

I changed the date I start chemo again to Wed., Sept. 9th. That's one week later than before, and the day after my 25th wedding anniversary! So that gives me a little extra time to "feel good" and enjoy what's left of summer. I think I figured out that if I were to stay on my every-other week schedule I should have my last treatment on Dec. 16th (my mom's birthday!), and I'd have my pump removed 2 days later on the 18th (Rich's birthday!!). The week after that is, of course, Christmas. I hope the girls aren't expecting much for the holidays this year! If they want the house decorated I have a feeling they'll be doing it themselves. :)

I have notified the school that I will be taking a medical leave of absence until Jan. 8th. Monday, Jan. 11th will be my first day back. The school board has to approve it, but that shouldn't be a problem. I just hope I'm ready to go back by then! Part of my job is to do recess, so I better get over the cold sensitivity quickly! I tried working during chemo last spring and I kept having to call in sick. That was very stressful and frustrating for me, and the teachers and students really need more consistency. I am REALLY going to miss the start of the school year, the kiddos, and all the wonderful people I work with. I hope I get a chance to see some of them occasionally. I'm planning on going up to the school one day this week, and maybe having lunch with some friends next week? That would be wonderful! And maybe on some of my good days I can go in to work as a volunteer and help out with some projects. I know the first grade teachers always have some project going on that the paras could use a hand with! Or I could always go in just to sharpen to Karen's pencils!! :)))
Take care everyone!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting Better

My tummy is getting better each day. Its still uncomfortable, but not really painful anymore. The lower bowel that was so inflamed is much better. I'm slowly introducing more foods, but only small amounts at a time!
I made an appt. to see my radiation doc on Monday. If he thinks its ok, I might even have radiation on that day. I'll do whatever he thinks is best. There are 2 reasons I think we might be able to go thru with it: 1. I'm still on antibiotics, so it won't cause my infection to come back; 2. The area that will be radiated is smaller for the last 3, so hopefully it won't irritate my insides as much.
I have an appt. to start chemo on Wed. sept. 2nd., but I think I'm going to change it to the week later. I need more "good" days in between treatments. Some time to gather strength, both physically and mentally. Once I start chemo its going to be a long time til I get another break!
Love and Blessings!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm Home!

I got home today about 2pm. Its so nice to be here. I was a little worried about the pain, but so far its been under control. I ate rice and lemon pudding for supper, and haven't had any bad pain yet. There is Little Caesar's pizza in the fridge--it is soooo tempting. A few more days and I'll give pizza a try again. Craving mozzarella sticks again too!
I can't believe how fast this month is going! I've missed most of it--I have a lot of catching up to do!
Prayer request: Please pray that Dr. B. (radiation doc), Rich, and I make the right decision about whether or not to do the last 3 radiation treatments. I'm pretty much going to trust the doc, so pray he makes the right decision!
After all this, I think I'm looking forward to chemo again! (not really!)
Take care everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Still Here....

I guess I was wrong when I said I wouldn't be in the hospital long! Hopefully I can go home tomorrow. I have a lot of pain and cramping after eating and the doc wants me to be able to eat without a lot of pain before I go home. Its a VERY slow process. I think the C-diff infection is under control, but it just takes a long time for the inflamed bowels to heal and go back to "normal". There were white blood cells in the bladder, but the culture didn't grow anything, so its not really an infection. The white blood cells are probably a reaction to radiation on the lining of the bladder.
Don't know what we are going to do about radiation. I still would like to finish the last 3, but don't know if that'll happen. I've decide to pray about it and leave it in God's hands--I don't want to be worrying about it.
It gets pretty boring here! But since I like to sleep a lot, its really not too bad. Dee came down Saturday to keep me company so Rich could stay home for awhile and get some things done. We yakked for about 5 hours! It was great! This C-Diff infection is contagious, so she was taking a risk, but she kept her gown and gloves on like a good girl!
This infection is contagious mostly only to those that have a compromised immune system, or have recently taken antibiotics (because that kills the "good" bacteria that keeps the bad stuff in check).
Thanks for checking in! And thanks for your prayers!!
Love to all,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going to the Hospital

Last night I decided to take my temp before bed, because I was supposed to be keeping an eye on it. It was 100.4, so I called the after hours nurse line--she talked to Dr. J, my oncologist, and he wanted me to go to the ER to be tested for some different infections and such. We got down there about 10:30, and by that time my temp was up to 101.3. They did some x-rays, lots of blood tests, stool and urine sample, and a CT scan. Turns out I have a bladder infection again. The ct scan showed that my lower bowel is inflamed, but not as bad as last time. They sent me home with 2 antibiotics. We got home about 6:30 am.

So this afternoon, I called the cancer center to talk to a nurse to see if I could take some oxycontin I had left over, and she started asking me questions about my pain and fever (100.2 earlier today). She talks to the doc and calls me back to tell me he wants to admit me to the hospital. He doesn't like the way the bowels looked on the scan, and I have another infection called C-Diff (?) in the bowels and he wants to keep a close eye on me. The nurse also said I have a "major" bladder infection, whatever that means.

When I am in a lot of pain, I actually prefer to be at the hospital. I get good pain meds, and I don't have to do ANYTHING. My food is brought to me, I have an adjustable bed, the nurses come at the push of a button--its nice! Everytime I move it hurts, so just laying in bed is all I really want to do.

I don't think I'll be there long--just enough to get some antibiotics, and reassure the doc that my bowels aren't going to explode! (or whatever he thinks is going to happen)

So, as always, prayers are appreciated!
Take care everyone!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Still No Radiation

Saw Dr. B today, and we decided to wait to do the radiation. I'm running a low grade fever, and even with the pain pills I'm still in a lot of pain. I will go see him on Thursday, but we'll probably wait until next Monday to start the last 3 treatments. He said its possible we might even skip the last 3 altogether, but I hope we don't have to. I really want to complete this. If it was just a matter of pain, I'd definitely finish, but there is the chance we could do permanent damage, and that I DON"T want.

Today 2 friends, Heidi and Pam, stopped by for a little visit, and they prayed over me. It was so nice to visit with some girlfriends, and it made me forget about my pain for a little bit. I hesitate to have people over because the house gets a little messy, but hopefully those that visit will care more about me than my house! Heidi and Pam are the moms of Shonna's best friends, so of course we have to talk about the girls (hee-hee--I know they hate that!). The girls are such good kids, that we certainly don't have anything to complain about! We are very proud of them!

Alyssa is still around, taking care of me when I need it. She's been busy planning her wedding/reception, Rachel's baby shower, and her friend's bachelorette party, plus cheerleading practice has started already. She and her friend Alyssa A. are the coaches.

Haven't seen much of Rachel lately. She usually stops by on Thursday to show me all her garage sale finds. She's having alot of fun shopping for her baby! (her hubby might say too much fun!)
Take care everyone! Thanks for all the prayers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More Changes in "The Plan"

My pain has gotten worse over the weekend, to the point where the pain pills barely help. So I didn't have radiation today, and when I saw my oncologist (Dr. J) he decided not to do the 5FU pushes(injections) I was supposed to have this week. The 5FU makes my body more sensitive to the radiation, which would be a bad thing for my body right now! He feels I've gotten enough radiation and 5FU previously, and I'll be getting more chemo soon, so its ok to skip it. We'll see what the radiation doc wants to do tomorrow, as I still have a lot of cramping and pain. Dr. J said the concern is that when the bowels get really inflamed the walls get weaker and then I am at risk for a perforated(sp?) bowel.

I have a date set for when I start my final 8 rounds of chemo--Wed., Sept. 2nd. I wanted it to be Wed. again, like before. I'll get chemo on Wed., come home with the 5FU pump, and have it removed by a nurse that comes to the house on Friday. I'll have a 3 week break before it starts--yay! As soon as I am feeling better, I plan on enjoying EVERY day!
Love and Blessings!!
Tina :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Doing Better! (Only 3 more!!!)

Thanks to pain pills! I had a rough couple of days, and didn't know how I was going to make it thru the last few treatments, and then I decided to take some of the remaining pain pills I have left over from after I got out of the hospital. I told Donnie (the radiation nurse) that I was going to do that and she thought it was a good idea--the pills help both with the pain and they slow down the bowels. The doc wanted to see me today when I went in for radiation, because Donnie had told him I wasn't feeling well. He agreed taking the pain pills was a good idea, and he thought maybe I should skip treatment today--but I told him I really wanted to have my treatment, because I'm almost done! He said ok, but if I'm still having pain on Monday, we'll take the day off. I feel sooo much better--hardly any pain/cramping at all.
Today Alyssa and Shonna went with to treatment, and we picked up Rich from work too. Then we went to lunch after. We were supposed to go to this little Italian place on Rice St. called Mama's, but because I had to see the doc we didn't have time. Ate at Roadside pizza instead, because its quicker. Rich had to get back to work for a meeting. I asked Alyssa yesterday to drive me, because of the pain pills, and then Shonna found out we were going out to lunch and she wanted to go too. It was a nice lunch. Later in the afternoon I took Shonna to Rosedale to get her the Macbook she's been wanting (she's helping to pay for it!). She's clogging up this laptop with all her photos and music, and the Macbook has a much better program for photo editing. She's been getting jobs taking grad pics and wedding pics, so it will help her to have a better computer.
It was a long day! I'm about ready for bed!
Thanks for the prayers--God is answering them!
Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

5 Left....5 Too Many!

Its going to be a tough week...can't wait until its done! Things are starting to really hurt again, like they did before I was hospitalized last time. I think we all thought it was the 5 FU that was causing most of the trouble, but it seems that radiation is messing up my system all on its own! But, I've got to tough it out--can't stop now! Only 5 to go!
If there is anyone reading this who has to go thru the same radiation I'm going thru, please know that most people don't have side effects as bad as I do. I talked to a younger gal (early 30's?) when she had just 2 treatments left and her biggest complaint was tiredness. She napped everyday after radiation. Hers is the more common reaction, but everyone is different.
I've been throwing myself a little pity party today--but I'm done with that now. I'm alive, and have a wonderful family helping me...I have SO much to be grateful for!! Time to count my blessings!!
Blessings to all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Only 6 Left!

Only 6 radiation treatments left! I can't wait to be done! My last treatment will be next Wed., but I'll still have to go down to Regions Thurs. and Friday also to finish my 5FU injections. I found out from the nurses yesterday that I'll also get a "push" (injection) of the Leukovorin along with the 5FU, because it helps the 5FU work better. They'll access my port on Monday to draw blood for labs and give me my injection, and then leave it accessed for the rest of the week. I'm glad I remembered to put the Emla cream on my port before I went this last Monday. It numbs the skin so it doesn't hurt when they put the needle in. Otherwise it hurts! The nurse I usually have on Mondays, while I love her dearly, puts it in too slow, I think. I had another nurse who did it fast and it hurt alot less.

My intestines are starting to protest a little again, and the radiation is starting to bother the bladder as well. The doc gave me a scrip for something to soothe the bladder, but I haven't tried it yet.

Today Alyssa, Shonna and I went to Godfather's Pizza for lunch. We love it, but Rich doesn't, so its usually a special treat for the girls and I. Probably wasn't the best choice for my stomach, but oh well. I had white rice and lemonade for supper to make up for it! And I don't need to worry about calories because my radiation doc was concerned today that I'm still losing weight. I'm secretly thrilled, of course! Especially since I was expecting the scale to be up a little since I have my appetite back and have been eating more.

Since I didn't nap today, and don't have anything important to do tomorrow, I'm gonna try to sleep without an Ambien pill tonight. I've taken one 3 or 4 nights in a row, and I don't want to start to need them to get to sleep. I've never even taken a Tylenol PM before...I just don't like to take drugs I don't need. But, I have learned to take what I do need, to improve my quality of life. Why suffer if I don't have to?

I might try to get a haircut tomorrow or Thurs. I hate making appts. because I never know how I'm going to feel. My hair is still thinning and starting to look really flat. I REALLY want to get out to lunch with some girlfriends (I need some laughs!), but I always hesitate to make a commitment. But I am seriously needing some girl time!

Time for bed!
Goodnight everyone!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Very Nice Weekend!

Not a great picture of me--but note the sweatshirt! Windy and 60's!
The Clemens garden on Friday night--lots of different color themes, and water fountains.

The Musinger Garden we visited on Sat. morning.

Rich and I did get away overnight on Friday, but we went to St. Cloud instead of Duluth. Duluth is so busy (and expensive!) on the weekends, and the Hell's Angels were supposed to be taking over most of the town too. When I'm done with radiation we might try to go up there on a weekday, instead of a weekend. I really should plan a trip to Chicago too, before chemo starts. Shonna wants to look at some colleges in the area. Anyone have any recommendations as to where to stay or what colleges might be good? I've never been there before. I think its about an 8 hour drive from here.
Anyways, back to the weekend. In St. Cloud there are some gardens on the Mississippi River that are so beautiful. I love being by the river! We went to one garden on Friday night, and the other one near it on Sat. morning. We ate at a Ground Round, which is one of our favorite restaurants, but there aren't any in the twin cities anymore. Its the first "real" restaurant Rich took me to, on our 2nd date. (McDonald's drive thru was our first date--and a blind date at that!) At Ground Round they used to give you a basket of peanuts and you just threw the shells on the floor. Now they give you a basket of popcorn instead. Love their shrimp! I enjoyed the whole meal, which hasn't happened in a long time! (Except for the KFC buffet the night before--that was the first time I felt like eating meat.) Before we left town Sat., we ate at a Grizzley's restaurant. I don't think we have them in the cities either, but I've seen them in Duluth before. I ate about 2/3 of my hamburger, and 1/2 my fries--tasted good, but didn't want to overdo it. Plus, we planned on stopping in Elk River on our way home for DQ!

I've been feeling pretty good, except for the tiredness. I took an Ambien last night at 12:45, when I woke up to use the bathroom. That helped me alot! Usually I can't get back to sleep after I wake up, and I toss and turn and keep Rich awake too--eventually I leave the bedroom and go out to the recliner. But the Ambien helped me get back to sleep and I slept until 6, got up briefly and fell back to sleep until about 8--awesome! What a difference a little sleep makes! I made it to church and was so happy to be there worshipping God. I can feel His presence so strongly that I cry--its just beautiful! I'm always amazed at what He has done for me!!
Well, tomorrow starts another week of radiation. I have only 8 treatments left!! I hope I can keep my energy levels up;I get so frustrated when all I do is run to radiation, then come home and nap and watch tv. There is so much I should be doing! So, pray for a good week folks!
Love you all!