Saturday, October 31, 2009

Midnight Musings

Ok, more like 1:30am to 4am :)
First a little update. I'm feeling pretty good, but have come to realize that I may not have anymore of those "full of energy" days that I've come to expect. Yesterday Rich and I went grocery shopping and I was surprised at how leaden my legs felt! The chemo fatigue is gone, but I still have been tired a lot more than I expected. Just another adjustment I need to make--remember I've had to learn to take things "one day at a time"! I can't plan on feeling one way or another--it is what it is. :)
So, as I'm lying awake in the wee hours of the morning, I start thinking about my future, or possible lack there of. I usually forbid my brain to go there, but once in awhile I let my thoughts progress. Sometimes I hope, through the Holy Spirit, that God will give me a glimpse of my future, that maybe somehow I can get a "sense" of whether or not I'll be around to see my grandson grow up. What came to me last night, is an image of David and Goliath. I am "David" and obviously Goliath is the cancer. The stone in my slingshot is the perfect stone that God helped me pick from the creek--it represents the chemo that I throw at my cancer. God, of course, is guiding the chemo and doctors, just like He guided that stone to Goliath's forehead. This doesn't necessarily mean I'll have a long future, but it does reassure me that God "has my back" and is standing with me in this fight. I am so humbled and grateful, I can't even put it in words how it makes me feel.
Before this image came to mind, I was wondering if I should read more about my prognosis, or continue to "bury my head in the sand". I am definitely a person that likes to be informed! But what would be the purpose? Everyone's cancer is different, no matter what the studies say. If a website says I have x% chance of getting the cancer back, what does that really mean? Of what use would it be to know? I might be the other % that doesn't get it back. I already know I'll need to take precautions--regular tests, healthier diet and more exercise. So, once again, I've decide not to look into it. Its all in God's hands anyway, and that's where I place my trust. His plans for me are good. :-)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE." Jeremiah 29:11
Love and Blessings!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The "Not Much Sleep Days" Are Here!

The title sounds like it would be a bad thing--but it means I'm feeling much better and my brain is on overdrive again! In the wee hours of the morning I've come up with Christmas ideas, and pretty much remodeled my whole house!! I even took the time to write my house ideas down, so maybe we can at least get some painting done this winter. No money for most of my other ideas! I have to save for a wedding reception :) (and college, and...etc).
Most of the nausea is gone (only 1 pill yesterday afternoon, and none so far today!), and my tiredness is more a result of lack of sleep than chemo. SOOO much better than a few days ago!

I can't believe its already Thursday. There is alot I should be doing, but I'm just gonna play around on the computer, take care of a few bills, and maybe start that paint-by-number I bought. I have to say, I don't feel as guilty taking it easy as I used to! I'll keep that to-do list for tomorrow :0).
Last chemo round I talked to my oncologist about delaying my 7th round (supposed to be Dec. 16th) until after Christmas, so I can enjoy the holiday a little more. He said that would be fine! That pushes my last round into January, but that's fine with me. It'll soon be over anyway, and I want to enjoy Christmas with my family (esp. my new grandson!!).
Speaking of Brennan, they took him off the caffeine (prevents apnea spells) and last night he had another spell. That might set back when he gets to come home. We really want him home, but we know he is safe and well taken care of where he is. Poor Rachel is getting tired of all the running back and forth tho! She's such a good mama!
That's it for now!
Love and Blessings to everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trying to Hang In There!

Each day I wake up and think that this day will be better than the previous one, but so far each one has been a little worse! I have been sleeping for most of the last 4 days. I'm trying to stay awake now for a while, but soon I'll be back in bed. The nausea is a little worse today too. I'm thankful, tho, that I don't have a lot of pain or vomiting. So, I guess, all in all, nausea and fatigue are bearable. I can't wait til I get out of this brain fog, and start living again--tomorrow maybe?

We finally have a sunny day--but by the time I feel well enough to go outside, we'll be back to cold and clouds. What an awful Fall we are having--I guess it kind of fits with my mood! Maybe we'll get some sun in November.

Brennan is getting closer to coming home. Other than some tummy troubles he is doing really well. My sister has a herniated disk in her back and has been mostly bedridden for over 2 weeks! Wish I was in better shape to help her out! I can pray though! Hang in there Dee!! Thanks Aunt Lois and friend Diane for the cards! Cards and e-mails are much appreciated!!

Hope everyone else is doing well! Keep me updated!



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank God for Sunshine!

I'm so glad its a sunny day. It really helps my mood. And when I'm laying in bed with nausea, it makes the backyard so pretty to look at, shining on the yellow and rust colored trees.

Yesterday Rachel took me to get my pump disconnected and get my neupogen shot. I could've driven myself if I had to, but am thankful she brought me, just because I was very tired. And my nurses finally got to meet her! Of course they've seen pics of her and Brennan, so they were very happy to meet her!

I did my 2nd neupogen shot today. So far not much back pain. I get a smaller dose than before, and I take ibuprofen and Tylenol to ward off the pain.

Major side effects now are nausea and fatigue. Finally managed to get in the shower, but not enough energy to shave my legs! It did feel good, though, to stand under the nice warm water. I am running a low temp too, from my low white blood cell count. Hopefully that will go away now with the 2nd shot. So far there is no change in my nausea with the Emend. We'll give it a few days and see how I do. I'm going to take some ginger next time I eat too. Its hard to take everything I need to, because I like to spread my pills out and not take too many at the same time! Which reminds me--I better take my Prilosec, or all these drugs give me heartburn!

Brennan is doing great. He's near 5 lbs, if not over, and hasn't had an apnea spell in a while. Can't wait til he comes home!! Rachel is very busy running back and forth to the hospital! But she looks great, and healed quickly after her c-section.

That's it for now.
Prayer requests--that I get through the next few days ok, for Brennan, and for Jaren in Iraq (and Alyssa waiting patiently for him to come home!)
Love and blessings!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now I Have Five

My oncologist, Dr. J, added another anti-nausea drug-->Emend. I took one pill today, then I take 1 on Friday and 1 on Saturday. So now I have 5: Emend, Zofran, Decadron, Ativan, and Compazine. I've heard good stuff about Emend from fellow bloggers. Dr. J said it is good for delayed nausea. I told him the nausea doesn't usually start until Friday night, but of course since I said that I've already started feeling nauseous. Oh well, hopefully it will go away til Friday.

My blood counts were low again. Hemoglobin is up to 11.2, which is better than it has been. Neutrophils (pmn absolute is the test name) are down to .9 (range is 1.8 to 7.7). Neutrophils are part of the white blood cells. We were able to do chemo today, but I will have to get a neupogen shot on Friday and Saturday. I only have 1 shot left here at home, so Friday I will go back to the Cancer Care Center to get my pump disconnected (instead of a nurse coming to the house) and they will give me a shot, then I will do the 2nd one on Saturday at home. I'll order some more shots from our insurance's specialty pharmacy to have at home for next time. I can get 3 at a time. They cause me alot of pain, so I will make sure I take 3 Ibuprofen first, and then alternate that with Tylenol for a day or 2. I still feel little electrical shocks up my spine, but they only last a few seconds. But the shots work fast and my wbc levels shoot right up!

I'm having difficulty swallowing. I thought it would be better by this evening. I'm carefully nibbling on oyster crackers, but sometimes I really struggle to swallow. The Dr. said its from the cold sensitivity--the throat has spasms. My hands, legs, lips, and even tongue all cramp up now and then. And I have a bad headache, and for some reason, I sneeze everytime I get home from chemo. I think its the 5FU in my pump, because it seems to stop after I have the pump removed. Overall, not feeling too great! But these problems are usually just the day of chemo, then they go away. Except for the cold sensitivity, but the cramping stops.

So that's my little update! Hoping tomorrow will be a little better, and this Emend stuff helps for the rest of the week.
Take Care everyone! Thanks for checking in!
Oh! I wanted to mention that the cancer center was almost COMPLETELY out of snacks today. They were discussing who wanted to make a trip to Sam's Club tonight. The nurses spend their own money on snacks when needed. Rich and I showed up with some stuff we had bought, and some generously donated by someone at SJM (Rich's work). They were so thrilled to have the snacks!! SJM employees-- You guys are AWESOME! Thanks for all the baby gifts too!! Anyways, my point was that more donations are needed, if anyone can help out. Don't feel bad if you aren't able to help at this time! Donations should be individually packaged snacks--crackers (plain or with cheese, peanut butter, etc), cookies, granola bars, small soup cans, and anything else you think would be good, but they must all be single serving packages. Thanks!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Been Busy!

Isn't Brennan adorable?? He's hangin' on to Grandpa!

It seems I've had something going on almost everyday this past week, starting with Shonna's birthday dinner last Tuesday. Being busy is good, but sometimes I just like to hang out at home and get stuff done, esp. on my good days. I did finally get to touch my grandson on Sunday! He is doing really well, and sooo cute! Hopefully he can come home in a couple of weeks. I've been doing some Christmas shopping for him already. The hard part of shopping early is waiting until Christmas to give the gifts!

Today I had my "girl time". I went to the school to help out for a while, then I sat in the lounge to chat with everyone. I really enjoy it. I go in every 2 weeks. I told the teacher I help that I can do projects at home too, so she might, occasionally, send stuff home with my neighbor who also works at the school.

On Saturday Rich and I went to a benefit for Rich's brother's roommate, who has mesothelioma. We bid on a night at Grand Casino and got it! It wasn't necessarily a good deal, but that's not what its about. And it was cheaper than we'd spend anywhere else. We plan on going in 2 weeks. We don't gamble much--probably because I would spend way too much if given the chance! So we'll definitely set a limit. I've heard they have a great buffet there. We really enjoy our little get-a-ways. It feels like we are getting away from the cancer too. I can't wait!

The good days are already getting fewer. This last round it took until the following Thurs. (8 days after chemo) before most of the nausea was gone. And the cold sensitivity is really not going completely away. I have been able to eat/drink cold stuff the last few days, but not frozen stuff. I got a Wildberry Smoothie from Caribou today, but had to take little sips until it was mostly melted. But it sure was yummy!

Well, tomorrow is round 3 of 8. I'm so not looking forward to it. I feel so crummy by the time I leave. I have to wear gloves and a scarf. Breathing cold air makes my throat freeze up, and I get leg, lip, and hand cramps. I usually have a bad headache and can't sleep the first night. Everything eases up slightly the following 2 days, then the nausea and fatigue kick in. Oh well, I'm almost halfway done! There's always a bright side, right? The best part is the weight loss! I've lost about 22 lbs since this all started. :-)

Well, see ya all on the other side!



ps My sister is going to start putting together something for meals again. (pray for her--she hurt her back and is in a lot of pain right now!!) So, be on the lookout for an e-mail or phone call from her. We don't need a lot, just a few meals now and then is REALLY nice. Thanks to everyone who has helped us in the past!! Please know that we really appreciate it!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Note About Blueberries, A Good Book, and Me

Here (I fixed the link! It works!) is a link about how wild blueberries can help fight cancer, as well as other red-purple fruits. Gives a little background on how cancer cells grow too. I would LOVE to have a berry smoothie right now--but I still can't have anything too cold. When I can have cold things, I'm going to try to concentrate on getting healthy stuff in me--instead of Dairy Queen and sherbet! Although there is always a time and place for a treat!! :0)
I'm going to buy a book called "Anti Cancer A New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD. There is a copy of it at the Cancer Center Library, and some docs are recommending it to their patients. This author has looked into all the research on foods and lifestyles, etc., and put it all in one book. He even breaks it down to what works for what kind of cancer (I think he covers colon, breast, prostate, and a few others). He explains how cancer works and how it can be fought in easy to understand terms. And he tells his story too (brain cancer). Lots of easy to follow charts and graphs too, about different foods and exercise. I think I may have seen this book mentioned on someone else's blog too? It seemed familiar when I was shown it at the cancer center.
I'm feeling so much better today--its almost like a high--I have more energy, a big smile, and have trouble sleeping! lol! Again, I think its from my mind coming out of the fog and trying to make up for several days of not much activity! I had to take an Ambien last night, but slept well after that. Last round I needed Ambien 3 nights. I don't have a problem with that--I get a good nights sleep and feel great the next day--its all good. ;)
That's all for now!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Starting To Feel Better

Monday was the toughest day this cycle. I end up feeling like just a lump of flesh--no desire/will to do anything but lay around or sleep. Although I feel very nauseous, I'm so glad I don't actually vomit. At least I haven't yet. I feel really bad for those that get really sick from chemo. I have a few miserable days, but nothing compared to what some go through. I do sometimes have a tough time emotionally. I think that's pretty normal when you aren't feeling well. I feel like I have a dark cloud over my head, and as I start feeling better, it feels like the sun starting to come out. It helps when the sun is actually out! This snow is ridiculous!! Still moving slow today, and still the nausea, but each day is better than the previous one.
I have a cousin just a few years younger than me that was just diagnosed with stage 2 lymphoma, and has a large mass under her sternum. Its such a downer to hear of someone else you know getting cancer. You just don't want anyone else to have to go through this, or become part of this "club". Her life is forever changed now, but I have to say, that the change isn't all bad. I was reading Michelle's blog today and she reminded me of the blessings that can come from all of this. It takes a while to start feeling the blessings--and for awhile one even questions how there could possibly be anything good that comes from this. Its hard for me to put into words how blessed I feel. There is an incredible joy that I have on my good days--joy I haven't felt before. And my relationship with God--amazing that He loves me and cares for me so much! He has shown me, once again, that I am truly important to Him--EVERYONE is!! And I'm so proud of my husband and daughters, how they've stepped up to help, or even just made me smile and feel loved.
So, I would say to my cousin--you're tough!!--you'll make it through this, and there is good that can come out of this-->beauty from ashes. Hang in there!! I'm here for you!!
Love and blessings to you all!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Eating Nilla Wafers...

and trying to ward off the nausea that's been getting worse since last evening. I've taken my Zofran and Decadron, but not Compazine or Ativan yet. The cookies are helping a little. Also feeling very tired. I did manage to get a shower and even slapped on some mascara, but I'll probably head back to bed soon. At least just to rest and maybe listen to some relaxing music and look at the pretty leaves out the window.
Its 11:50 and the poor dog hasn't been out yet! She seems to know when I'm not feeling well, and is staying curled up in her bed not bothering me to take her out. Rich went into work for awhile, Shonna hasn't emerged from her room yet, and Alyssa woke up with a sore throat. It may be up to me to bundle up and take her out. Can you believe there is snow on the ground?? WAY to early !!! October is usually my favorite month--hope it warms up soon. Such an odd year.
We think Shonna had/has the flu. I talked to the nurse at our clinic (they didn't want her to come in!), and she was pretty sure its the flu, probably H1N1. I wasn't sure at the time whether or not Shonna had a fever. She was at class and said she felt feverish, but when she came home her temp was normal--so maybe its not the flu? She felt worse the day before. It came on quickly, she had a stuffy head, backache and headache, really bad sore throat, and a cough. Every symptom except the fever, so I think its the flu, just a mild case. She's been staying in her room mostly, to keep me from getting sick. The clinic won't give her Tamiflu; they are keeping it for those that really need it. If I start to show flu symptoms, I can get Tamiflu right away to help me fight it.
This morning Alyssa woke up with a bad sore throat! I'm sure standing out in the cold last night at the football game didn't help any! She's one of the cheerleading coaches so she has to be there for the whole game. At least our team has been winning! Yay!
I have just a few days left of my Lovenox shots (blood thinner). I've got huge bruises all over my stomach. One is really bad and has a big lump under it. The oncologist felt it and said it must have bed under the skin for awhile. It'll eventually reabsorb.
Baby update: Brennan finally started gaining weight! He was having a tough time keeping his feeds down, but now he's up to 4 lbs! He's 2 weeks old today. Haven't seen him since Sunday :( I'll try to get down there later this week when I'm feeling better. The next few days I probably won't be leaving the house. Rachel is doing very well also! She is off the blood pressure meds and doesn't have any restrictions other than lifting too much. God is really watching over them!
Love and blessings!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chemo Round 2 Of 8

Maybe I should say round 6 of 12? Because these 8 rounds are a continuation of the 4 I had in the spring--for a total of 12 rounds. But the side effects are more like a round 2 than a round 6. If that makes any sense :) .

My blood counts were a little low, but still within the range that my doc allows for chemo. We discussed doing the Neupogen shot to increase the white blood cells (specifically neutrophils), but since I can't take ibuprofen for the pain (because of my blood thinners), we decided to hold off until next round. By then I'll be done with the blood thinner shots (Lovenox), and will be able to take the ibuprofen before the shot.

I can stop taking the antibiotic for the c-diff, but the doc said he was going to double check with the infectious disease doc to see if I should stay on it longer at a lower dose. He said he was going to do that last time, so I hope he remembers this time! Because of the c-diff, I haven't been able to touch my grandson, so I'm hoping by the time he comes home in a month or so I'll be all clear to hold him!

I did get the flu shot today. It was for the seasonal flu, as they don't have the H1N1 shots yet. I asked the doc if the flu could kill me, and while he didn't say no, he did say that those with the blood cancers (like lymphoma) are more at risk because of their suppressed immune systems. While my counts get low, I still have a working immune system to help fight the flu. But it is weaker than a normal, healthy person. I asked him if they (the ones with blood cancers) are the ones I see wearing the masks, and he said yes, and I don't need a mask.

So, while I was sitting there getting my chemo, Shonna sends me a text that says "I called in sick to work--don't come near me or you will die". ( That's typical Shonna drama:) ) Turns out she has a really bad sore throat and headache. These are the same symptoms my oncology nurse, Cheryl, tells me her son had about 3 weeks ago and her doc thinks it was H1N1 and gave her son Tamiflu. Great. Shonna is staying away from me and in her room as much as possible, but we do share a bathroom. I think I'm going to put out a separate hand towel just for me. I'm going to try to get Shonna in to the doc tomorrow. If I tell them I have cancer, maybe they'll be willing to fit her in! Shonna said several kids in one of her college classes all got sick around the same time. She's been using hand sanitizer and washing alot, but really, this flu virus is airborne and hand washing might not help all that much (although its still recommended).

So far my side effects have been stronger than last round. I've been getting the hand, lip and calf cramping, and my throat is more affected by the cool air. I brought my new scarf with me, and I'm glad I did because I really needed it. I still have it around my shoulders so I can breathe into it every now and then to warm up my throat. I still get that weird pain in my jaw from my salivary (sp?) glands everytime I eat something. The first few bites really hurt, then it stops. I don't remember what the doc said about it, but its normal for this treatment.

Typing is getting difficult, and I have a headache, so time to stop.

Love to all!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Hope I Never Have To Go Back...

to the radiation doctor! I had an appt. with Dr. Bisignani (Dr. B) this afternoon. I talked to him for about 5 minutes. He was very happy that I am doing so well, and don't have any lasting side effects from radiation. As nice a guy as he is, I told him I hope I never have to come back! I think I'll send a card to them, they were all wonderful to me and felt bad that I had such a difficult time with radiation. But I was SO EXCITED to walk out the door!! Yay! I decided we should go out to dinner to celebrate. :)

Today I bought some orange juice and lemon pudding for my next chemo round--which is tomorrow. Oj is ok warmed up, and the pudding can sit on the counter and be eaten at room temp. I also have choc. pudding and applesauce already out. Rich is going with me again. He always goes, unless there is something real important at work that he can't miss. I hope my blood counts are ok, but if they are not I can get the neupagen shot and maybe go back Friday for chemo. Because I respond so quickly to the shot, we shouldn't have to delay chemo a full week.

Yesterday I went up to the school to help out a little. I enjoy working in the copy room, and then I go to the staff lounge and spend nearly 2 hours visiting with everyone as they come in to eat their lunch. Of course I brought pics of my grandson to show off! It was so nice to see everyone! Altho I do get a little nervous about germs. There have been a few cases of the flu there, but not too much.

I'll try to update in the next day or 2--depending on how I feel. The worst days usually start 3-4 days after chemo.

Rachel and Brennan update: they are both doing very well! They are increasing Brennan's feeds to get him to where he is supposed to be. He needs to start gaining weight.

Take care everyone!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pretty Easy Round

This 1st round was pretty easy. I thought it might be a little worse because I've this chemo before, but I guess it had been long enough, so it was like starting over. I felt lousy Fri. thru Sun., and then just a little nausea the rest of the week. Even today, after a big lunch, I ended up taking a Zofran. Felt much better within a half hour.
While out shopping today I bought a scarf for chemo. Thought I should have something nicer than just a plain old winter scarf! I don't know if I'll need it for this next round, but I'll have it with me in case I do. I also have tea bags in my "chemo" bag so if I start having throat problems from the cold (usually starts when I'm almost done getting chemo, and I start losing my voice) I can have some tea. I haven't tried that before, but I'm hoping it will help.
I tried to eat some sherbet 2 nights ago, but my lips stiffened up and my mouth started hurting. Oh well. I could probably handle it now. I would take small bites and eat it slowly. I just had a caramel apple tho, so no sherbet for me tonight--maybe some popcorn tho!
Haven't been down to see Brennan in a few days, but he is doing really well. They moved him to a different room for stronger babies--a "feed and grow" room. No more oxygen or bili lights! Rachel is doing really well too. Took her to Target yesterday--thought she'd be real sore, but she did fine. Just tires easily! I'm so glad she lives close by! Only 5 minutes away (if that!) .
Monday I plan on going up to the school to help out 1 of the kdg. teachers. I help with copying, filing, cutting, whatever! I did mention tho that I don't want to be around the kids much. I'm nervous about getting sick. I haven't really talked to my doc about it (the flu) yet, but I plan to on Wed. A nurse told me I can get the shot there, so we'll see what Dr. J says about it.
Well, that's my update, in case anyone is checking :)
Love and blessings!