Thursday, December 31, 2009

More on Round 7

I forgot to post about the nausea I had yesterday, which was new for me during the chemo infusion. During chemo I get an Emmend pill, and Zofran and Decadron through my port. The Emmend doesn't actually start helping til a few days later, but the other 2 should work right away.
When the nurses access my port the first thing they do is wipe it with alcohol, then flush it with saline. The saline gives me a horrible taste in my mouth, which often starts the stomach feeling a bit queasy. If I plug my nose I can't taste it. Putting a tea bag up to the nose also helps, and someone else mentioned sucking on a lemon drop. I just do the nose plug thing--works very well.
Lately the smell of the alcohol has really been bothering me, because I now associate it with chemo. So yesterday it really started my stomach feeling yucky, and no matter what I ate (eating sometimes helps with nausea), it just got worse. I had some compazine tablets in my purse so I asked the nurse if it was ok if I took one,and she said yes. She talked to me for a bit and asked if I had Lorazapam (sp?) (brand name Ativan). I do have some, but it was at home. She told me to take it before I come in next time, or even half a dose if it makes me too sleepy. Ativan helps with nausea, but it also helps to calm you down. We think the nausea started because of my association with the alcohol, not from the actual chemo. In other words, it was a psychological reaction. The nurse said its quite common after many chemo treatments.
Next time I will take the Ativan before going, and I will try plugging my nose for the alcohol smell, like I do with the saline. The compazine worked, thankfully, and I haven't had any nausea since.
Feeling pretty good so far today. The pump ALWAYS annoys me. Had a lot of leg, foot and hand cramping yesterday, should of seen me trying to walk! Its much better today. Had to turn up the furnace a little because my fingers were tingling from the cold! Its supposed to be really cold here the next few days, but I probably won't go out til next Wed. anyways. Unless we go out for supper tonight. After today I'll slowly be feeling worse and worse, until next Wed, when hopefully I'll start coming out of the fog and fatigue and start feeling better.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I pray that everyone has a prosperous and HEALTHY New Year!! (myself included!) And stay warm!! AND--please celebrate responsibly tonight. If you must drink away from home, bring a designated driver or take a cab! Don't risk your life and that of others. And plan ahead to stay warm on the way home. In our area the windchills will be 10 to 20 degrees BELOW zero!

Love and Blessings!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yes to Round 7!

My blood counts today were right on the borderline--any lower and I wouldn't have been able to have chemo. My Onc. thinks next time my platelets will be too low to do chemo, but we'll get the labs done, see him, and make the decision then, because you never know for sure until the lab tests are done!
I will do 4 Neupogen shots starting this Friday, after my pump is removed. I only have 3 shots here at home, so I'll go to the hospital to get my pump removed and get 1 shot there. Then the Sun. and Mon. before my next round I'll do another 2 shots, for a total of 6 shots this round. Dr. J explained to his "Fellow" (he often has one with him) that my wbc counts drop lower later in the cycle than usual--again, I'm an anomaly! (or just call me "oddball"!)
Friday is Alyssa's 22nd birthday. She knows I won't be able to celebrate much, but she has requested Green Mill pizza, so we'll pick up some of that and a cake. Rachel, Ken and Brennan might come over too. I don't know if Shonna will be back from Kansas City by then, as they are driving back that day.
Sat. is the big move in day for Alyssa. I hope enough strong young men show up to help! I'll be home all snuggly and warm. :) Her hubby Jaren is on his way right now back to the states! Although she still won't be able to see him for a few weeks (he has to do some training in Utah), we are glad that he'll be back in the USA, and closer to home! I admire Alyssa for being so strong--Rich and I have hardly spent a night apart our whole marriage!
Well, typing is hard because my hands keep cramping up! So, I'll end here.
If I don't post again before Friday--HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Love to all,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Round 7 Tomorrow?

My chemo appointment starts tomorrow at 9:30. First the blood draw, then visit with oncologist and wait for labs, then find out whether or not I can get chemo. Usually the labs are back before we are done with the doc, but sometimes we have to wait for awhile for them to get done. If the results are slow coming back, we (Rich and I) go sit in the infusion room and the nurse lets us know when the results come in and if the doc gives the go ahead or not.
I'll be ok with the results either way. If I can get chemo I'm that much closer to being done, but if I can't then I get to help Alyssa move into her new apartment on Sat. I'll leave it up to God to figure it out! Like I've mentioned before, God has had His hand on the timing of my chemo treatments, and it always works out for the best!
I'm praying I don't get sick, because Alyssa has had a cold, which turned into the flu or something yesterday. She was sick to her stomach yesterday morning and afternoon, but has been better since then. I don't think its food poisoning, because she hasn't eaten anything different than the rest of us. I've been very blessed to not have been sick since I was diagnosed with cancer. Occasionally I'll get a little sore throat, but its always from allergies and the steroid I get at chemo makes it go away.
Wow, what a year this has been! On Feb. 6th it'll be one year since my tumor was found. Then surgery, chemo, radiation, 2 more hospital stays, more chemo. And then throw in some major life events--2nd daughter married, 25th anniversary, first grandson, youngest turned 18 and is going to college full time instead of classes at high school. Next year will bring the empty nest when Shonna graduates and goes off to live on a college campus somewhere (still deciding where). Its all very exciting! I know my daughters will always be close to me and keep in touch, so I'm not too sad about them all moving on. I find it exciting to watch them go out and make their way. I'm so proud of all 3 of them!
At this time of year, most people review the previous year and think about changes they want to make in the new year. Its like a clean slate for some people. Since I'm so close to being done with chemo, I've been thinking ahead to what I want to do after its all done. I'll have to go back to work, so I don't want to make too many plans or have too many expectations until I see how that goes. I know its going to take some time to get my strength back. I'm hoping I can keep off the weight I've lost and REALLY eat healthier. I'll be doing some research and making lists of good things to eat. I also want to make time for exercise.
I'm also aware that many cancer survivors go through a time of depression after treatment. I'm hoping that by being aware of it, and reading about others' experiences, that I can avoid it. Prayer and Bible reading will help with that too.
I guess mostly what I want is to know what God wants of me. Its time to get out of the boat and my comfort zone and really walk the talk. Scary though! Its good to know that God will help me, and He will still love me even if I fail!
Well, I'll check back in tomorrow or Thursday and let you all know if/how treatment went!
Love and blessings,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas everyone!!
I have a lot to do, but am filled with excitement! Like a little kid (or my 21 year old, Alyssa!), I can't wait to get to the presents! But before that happens, I have a lot of work to do!
Tonight, after 5pm church service (if we make it--the snow is supposed to be falling pretty hard then), we'll have a spaghetti dinner here--just the kids and my sister. Then we celebrate the birth of Jesus with a birthday cake. My Godparents, Darrel and Elaine, gave us a beautiful cake and dessert plate set a few years back when they were moving. Its very pretty glass with gold trim, and I think they had received it as a wedding present. We use it every year for Jesus' birthday cake! Thank you Darrel and Elaine!!
After the cake tonight we will open a few presents--Rich and I open our gifts to each other and the girls open their "sister" gifts. Rich was supposed to usher at the 11pm service, but we just got a call that it will be cancelled due to weather!
Tomorrow morning the kids will gather again, and we'll have cinnamon rolls and open the rest of our presents to each other. Later in the afternoon we will go to my brother Teri's house for Christmas with my family.
Saturday, we will have Christmas with Rich's family--and Sunday we will collapse and rest!! It will be a fun-filled few days!
Shonna and 2 of her wonderful friends are heading down to Kansas City for a youth conference at "IHOP" (Int'l House of Prayer) on Monday. The 3 are going BY THEMSELVES, and will be home on New Year's Day. Please keep them in your prayers!
Alyssa will be moving into her new apartment the first few days in Jan. I'm very excited for her! Shonna will stay with her until Jaren comes home (hopefully the beg. of Feb). Those 2 (Lys and Shonna) living together should be very interesting! :D
I'm supposed to have chemo on Wed. the 30th, so I probably won't be able to help Alyssa move in--but we might be able to get in Mon. or Tues. and we can do some cleaning and stuff then. Altho, you never know--my chemo could be delayed again due to platelets or white blood cells.
I need to get busy now and start making fudge and the cake, and also do some cleaning (esp. the never ending supply of hair on my bathroom floor from it thinning so much!!).
As excited as I am, I am ever mindful of those going through cancer treatment right now, and some are really struggling with sickness and pain. And I keep those in my thoughts that lost a loved one this past year. Christmas can be a tough time for many people. (Thinking of you, Godparents, and sending my love!)
Thank you to all who have supported me and my family through this difficult year. I pray often for God's blessings to be upon you!!
I wish everyone God's peace, and a healthy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Very Tiring, but Good Day

Today was another of my "bad" days--where I mostly lie in bed, and shuffle slowly when I do get up. But my 3 lovely daughters wanted to make their annual sugar cookies today! So, after I managed a shower and breakfast this morning, I kept slowly working in the kitchen, cleaning off counter space and such. When Rachel got here, I was more than happy to take over care of Brennan :) Shonna got to feed him too today, for the first time. I managed to make buttercream frosting, then handed over baby to Great grandma, and layed down for awhile--it was either lie down or fall down by that point! I rested for a bit, and then Shonna brought baby back to me, and he slept on my shoulder for awhile--is there anything better??
So now, I'm back in my bed, just relaxing for awhile. I feel better back here--comfy and cozy. Rachel went home, Alyssa is cleaning up some of the cookie mess, Shonna is at work, and Rich is eating the brownies Rachel made for his birthday present! (oh--now he's helping Alyssa in the kitchen--what a good hubby :)
I received two neat gifts today! I got a box of oranges from my good friend Diane in Florida--yum!! She and her hubby just moved to Florida--lucky, huh? I also got a very nice gift from a friend at work. So thoughtful. Its nice to know I'm not forgotten. :) And thanks to my neighbor who brought us a plate of cookies a few days ago--so nice!!
I keep thinking of little things I need to do--like gift wrapping and such. But my body is not up to it yet. I'm hoping tomorrow I can get a few little things done. My "elves" wrapped most of the gifts, but there are always a few things "Santa" needs to do. First thing I'll do tomorrow is make a list of what needs to be done.
I hope we don't get the snow storm they are talking about over Christmas--might be bad. We don't have far to travel, but it could still be bad just driving around here.
Thanks to my sister, for finding some OLD photos and adding to my collection of pics all over my walls. Some of them are from '68, when I was just 4 years old! Where did they come from?? Oh, and the soup turned out very good! THANK YOU!!
Please keep those battling cancer in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season. Some are going through some very tough treatments, and won't be doing much celebrating.
I am so grateful for all I have--my family (especially), my health insurance, house, money to buy gifts, friends, and on and on. My heart overflows with gratitude!
Love and blessings to all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the Downhill Slide

I'm doing ok, but the tiredness is setting in. So, for the next few days things will be getting worse. I'm hoping I feel as well as last time--I had the extreme fatigue, where moving was difficult, but my mind stayed fairly clear. I hate it when I get the bad brain fog and can't even carry on a conversation. But whatever happens, I'll deal with it--its only a few days, and I have Christmas to look forward to!
Had my pump removed about an hour ago--I hate having to carry it around! So glad its gone. Since I have it for 2 days after every treatment, I reminded myself this morning that I'll only have to be attached to it four more days. I can handle that! Only four more times of taping up my port with Glad Press n' Seal and tape to take a shower!
I'm glad I have been able to sleep fairly well, even with the steroids. For whatever reason they don't seem to affect me as strongly as they used to.
Well that's all for now. I'm sure I had more to say--but can't remember anything now!
Love and Blessings!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chemo Round 6!

Well, I'm happy to say all my blood counts were good and I was able to have my 6th round of chemo today. Not sure that "happy" is the right word. I'm glad to continue the chemo, so I can get it over with, yet its so hard to go back to feeling yucky. Wow, I've only had a week or so of feeling good and being able to have cold things; it must be REALLY hard to go back to chemo after being off it for 6 months, or a year, or a few years. I guess I should stop whining! :)
I did get out shopping yesterday, and of course hit the Caribou drive through for my smoothie! I had a good, productive day, so for the next few days I don't have to worry about getting things done for Christmas.
Its weird to have the extreme cold sensitivity back. Even with socks on, the kitchen floor is too cold--I have to remember to keep my slippers on. I took some clementines out of the fridge, so hopefully by tomorrow they'll be ok for me to eat. They've really tasted good lately!
Speaking of socks, while getting chemo today some people came through the infusion room singing Christmas carols, and they handed out warm, fuzzy ankle socks with a Regions hospital logo on them. I actually got tears in my eyes. Its still so weird to receive things like this. I feel like I should be the one handing out the gifts, not receiving them. I really never wanted to be part of this group that gets special consideration. Hence the tears--I AM part of this cancer "club", whether I like it or not! Weird that I still get tears after all this time, but every once in a while something will bring them on. I have to say I am very grateful for the carolers, and the socks! And someday, hopefully it WILL be me handing out gifts to cancer patients! Rich and I already do what we can by buying treats for the center, and Rich, of course, helps out other patients while we are there, if needed.
Tonight might be a night that I sleep in the recliner because of the steroids. They keep me awake most of the night. Last round I was able to sleep pretty well the first night. I must be getting used to them, or I'm just that much more tired! I did notice I was talking alot to my mom awhile ago, and that's usually a sign that the steroids are affecting me. If I'm still "chatty" at bedtime, I'll probably just stay out in the living room and let Rich have a peaceful night!
Thanks for checking in! Drop me a note to say Hi!
Love and Blessings!

Monday, December 14, 2009

One More Day...

I have one more day to finish up all my Christmas stuff. And if I can't have chemo on Wed., then I'll have some extra days to relax, or maybe do some more baking.
I don't have too many side effects right now. My feet and hands tingle a little from neuropathy, and I still tire more quickly than usual, oh, and my hair is still thinning! And I seem to have balance issues sometimes, so I'm very careful going up and down the stairs, and walking on the snow and ice. Other than that, I'm feeling pretty good right now! I hope my platelets are back up so I can have chemo. I REALLY want to get it over with! I want to get on with my life...
I was going to finish up my shopping today, but since it snowed this morning, I decided to do some baking and wrapping today and wait until tomorrow to get out and finish up my shopping. I've got a few gift cards to get, and some groceries.
Rachel came over with Brennan (my shirt still smells like baby!), and spent the afternoon here. She is one of my little elves and did some gift wrapping for me!
A wonderful friend from work stopped by and gave me some afghans her mom crocheted for the cancer center, and also gave us a gift card for Subway! Its much appreciated and will be used when I have chemo and can't cook anything. We spend too much money on eating out when I don't feel good! One craving I have when I feel my worst is a McDonald's dbl hamburger and small fry--it tastes good when I can't taste much else! Other times, I try to stay away from there.
My weight, at its lowest, was down 27 lbs. But its back up a bit since I've had so much time off from chemo! I try to watch what I eat, and how much I eat, but its hard when everything all of a sudden tastes good! And of course there's the Christmas cookies! I've been eating a lot of clementines, and drinking COLD water too.
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and remembering the Reason for the season. Its not about what you can get, or how much you spend, but its about a baby being born so that we might have a Savior, and enter into Heaven some day.
Peace and Blessings,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Platelets Still Too Low

No chemo today. My platelets actually went down, instead of up! The doc wants to wait a week, so we'll try again next Wed.
So, I have to get EVERYTHING done before then. Because if I get chemo next week, I'll be in a fog until Christmas Eve, and won't have any time to get anything else done. I'm a last minute person, so it'll be a challenge for me to get everything done that far in advance. :) Ugh--I forgot about Christmas cards--have to do them too. I better start making a list and plan out my days! I wanted to get a little baking done too.
The good side, of course, is I'm feeling good and getting some strength back. I'm not sure if that makes getting the next chemo round easier or harder. I was getting used to the sick and tired feeling--it'll be hard to go back to that now that I'm feeling better. But I'm determined to enjoy these extra days!
I do worry, just a little, that I'm not fighting the cancer hard enough. Not that there is anything I can do about it. I wish there was an easy way to build the platelets back up. I think my onc. said they are working on something.
Well, not much else to say!
Love and Blessings!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chemo Tomorrow?

Tomorrow is supposed to be round 6 of my chemo treatments. It all depends on whether or not my platelet count came back up.
I've been enjoying these extra days before chemo. I've got most of the house decorated--although Alyssa did most of the work! We found an apartment for Alyssa and Jaren (she'll move in Jan 1st), and I made it to church on Sunday! I haven't been to church in awhile because I either don't feel good, or its just too hard to get moving in the morning. We also did some shopping on Sat.
I've been drinking lots of cold water and juice. Its been awhile since I could have water with ice in it! I still need to take small sips tho--can't gulp it down.
If I get chemo tomorrow I'll be hibernating for the next week! The first 2 days with my pump I don't feel too bad, but it'll be WAY too cold to go outside. Its snowing now with a temp of 19, and its supposed to be COLDER the next few days. Shonna came home today complaining about the snow and cold ("why do we live here?"). She is always cold. She's going to live with Alyssa in her new apartment for the first month until Jaren comes home, and she got REALLY excited when I told her the apartment would be much warmer.
I still get tired when walking too long or even standing too much. Stairs really wear me out! But other than that, things things are pretty good right now. That could all change tomorrow.... :)
Take care everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2009

No Chemo Today--and That's a Good Thing!

Just as I suspected, I wasn't able to get chemo today due to low platelets. They were 51 on Monday and are now 66, so they are coming up. My oncologist, Dr. J., said they usually come back up pretty fast, so we scheduled chemo for next Wed. Usually I would be a little bummed about delaying chemo, but as I told the doc, I think my body needs a break, and he agreed. He also said we could stay on the 2 week schedule and do a reduced amount of chemo, or spread out the treatments more and do the full dose, and the 2nd option is what he felt would work better for me. He assured me we are not hurting anything by waiting. So after my next treatment (#6), I get to wait 3 weeks to do my 7th treatment, which means I will have a MUCH better Christmas--yay!! It will be on Dec. 30th. Then my LAST ONE will be mid Jan. I'm so happy I could just do a little dance! :)
My white blood cells are WAY up, which I knew they would be because I could feel it working. My fever is gone, and I'm still taking the antibiotics, but don't need the percoset anymore. Although I will save them for next time I do the Neupogen shots!
So, as always, God has worked things out for me again! Everytime I needed to feel good for a holiday or special event, God has worked out my chemo schedule for me. Its been just amazing. No coincidences here folks! Its all God!!
Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Round 5,last day of my 2 week cycle

Had a busy day, with no afternoon down time, so I am very tired right now. I'll go to bed soon, but don't want to go too early or I might not sleep all night.
Alyssa and I looked at a few apartments in one building, then had lunch with Rich. Later in the afternoon Rich's dad and sister came over and Rachel brought Brennan over so they could hold him for the first time.
My chemo appt. got changed to an earlier time (ugh!), so we have to join the morning rush hour and be at the hospital at 8:30. I'll get labs drawn and see my oncologist, and he'll decide whether or not I can have chemo. I'm very curious to see what my blood counts are.
As far as side effects on this last day--just the usual cold sensitivity, although I did manage to drink my melted Wild Berry smoothie! Tiredness and weakness are ever present these days, and esp. this week with my low blood counts.
So, we'll see what tomorrow brings!
Take care everyone!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Round 5, Day 13-Wed.

I'm doing ok today. Taking my antibiotics and pain meds. These Neupogen shots are working REALLY well this time, and that means I have alot of bone pain. Especially my spine. The pain meds help, but when they wear off it hurts alot. That's how I know its time to take more. :)
I'm a little stuffed up--hope it doesn't turn into anything. Its been so dry at night that I wake up with a sore throat and bloody nose. I'm going to put a pan of water on the floor heat register and see if that helps.
I'm still worried about my platelets and am trying not to hurt myself! I can hardly wait until Friday to see what they are and what the doc says.
Usually by this point in my cycle I can eat cold cereal for breakfast, but altho I've had it the last 2 mornings, it doesn't taste good, and its still too cold. I'll go back to oatmeal tomorrow! I should try malto meal again--I think I used to like it. Anyways, the cold sensitivity doesn't let up much at all anymore. I can drink slightly cool things. I still want to try a smoothie tomorrow! If I let it melt, and take small sips, I can usually drink it.
Tomorrow Alyssa and I are going to look at another apartment, and then have lunch with Rich. I've been home taking it easy the last few days, so I'm ready to get out a little. I just have to be careful not to bump into anything :) And I use a lot of hand sanitizer and wipes! In the afternoon Rachel is going to bring Brennan over so my mom and Rich's dad can meet him and hold him.
Its been frustrating this week, because this is my small window of time to get things done. If I have chemo on Friday I won't be getting anything done next week. And then there's the stress of having such low blood counts. This chemo crap nearly kills you in order to save you!
When I see the doc on Friday I'm going to make sure we make some sort of plan for December. I need to know when I'll have chemo. He was going to let me skip the week before Christmas, so I want to look at the calendar with him and figure it all out--tentatively of course. Boy I can't wait until this is all over!!
I always plan to make short little posts, but apparently that's not possible for me :P
Thanks for hanging in there and making it to the end!
Love to all!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Round 5, Day 12--Tuesday

Wow. I just saw my blood test results from yesterday and am a little freaked out. My neutrophils (the white blood cells I take the shots for) are down to .1. Last time I had chemo they were .7, and remember I said the nurse was surprised the doc was letting me get chemo? She even went and asked him to make sure because they don't usually do it when it gets that low. Wonder what happens when you run out of neutrophils? The good news is I can feel the back pain from the shot I got yesterday, so I know its working to build them back up. I have 2 more shots to do.
The other # that worries me is my platelets. 150 is the bottom of the range and I'm down to 51. Last time I was 103. I have a few random bruises on my body--bleeding is a worry with platelets that low. They are what stops the bleeding.
My hemoglobin also went down to 9.6. Its been in the 10 range. Supposed to be 12-16, but mine hasn't been normal since before my surgery in Feb.
I don't remember how low the doc said he lets the platelets get to before he won't allow chemo. There is nothing they do to build them up, just time off of chemo.
So, there is a chance I won't be able to do chemo this Friday. Usually that is sort of a bummer, but with numbers like this I will be relieved if he postpones it!
I still have a bit of a fever, and am taking percoset both for "bottom" pain and my bone pain. Had a bad headache overnight that the percoset didn't touch, but it went away this morning when I got up.
Any advice or similar stories from other's that have been through this??
I guess I'll stay inside and wrap myself in bubble wrap so I don't get hurt :)

Hope everyone is having a great day!