Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some Wedding Pictures, and an Update

The pics aren't in the order I wanted, but oh well.  I don't really have any good ones!  I'm waiting for Shonna to edit some and put them up. The bridesmaids are Rachel, friend Alyssa L., Shonna, and Jaren's sister Mari is the Junior bridesmaid.  The wood cross they got married in front of was made by Jaren's dad, Ed, for their outdoor wedding last year. it added a real personal touch, and speaks of their commitment to God.  Alot of drippy eyes during the father/daughter dance!  They danced to Stephen Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella"  which is a tear-jerker song!  And of course I had to put up a pic of Brennan!  He's getting so big!  Almost 20lbs now.  And what a sense of humor!
As for me, the yucks have started to set in after round 2.  I napped a lot this afternoon and feel a bit better.  I'm taking my prescribed anti-nausea meds, as well as the "as needed" ones too.  They help, but it feels like the yuckiness never completely goes away.  The next few days I'll be resting alot and just trying to get through.  Then, hopefully, around Sunday, I'll start to come out of the fog a bit!
My hair continues to fall, but its just a few strands at a time, no clumps yet.  My friend that is going to give me a buzz cut was going to come Friday, but I asked her to come Monday instead.  I'll be too out of it Friday, and I don't want to buzz it until absolutely necessary.  I won't be going out much this weekend, and if I do, I can wear a scarf if I need to.  I tried on 3 my scarves, 2 wigs and 1 hat on Tues. when Alyssa was here, and they don't look too bad.  When I had a long scarf on I said I looked like an old Ukrainian woman, but I didn't look as bad as I thought I would.
Hope all is well out there!
Love and Blessings!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Looks Like Cherry Kool-Aid

The Red Devil looks like cherry Kool-aid, going in and coming out!  I'm supposed to flush the toilet twice after using it for the first 48 hours.  I think this is to protect others from the toxic stuff coming out of me.  Nice, huh? 
The toxins are working on my hair.  I woke up this morning with a tender scalp, and I knew that meant the hair was going to fall out soon.  I showered and there wasn't much in the drain thingy, so I was relieved.  But then when I was putting some gel in my hair, I pulled on some hair to reposition it, and a bunch came out in my hand.  Some areas are holding fast, and others come out when pulled.  I'm trying to leave it alone.  The hair around the front is coming out the easiest--which I had hoped that would come out last!  So, a few more days with it, if I'm lucky, then I'll be calling my friend Cindy to come and give me a buzz cut.  She's keeping the clippers in her car, and awaiting my call!
Today at the cancer center  (my nurses are non-union so I don't have to worry about a strike!  Yay!), my port wasn't working right.  They could push saline in, but not draw blood out.  Sometimes a little protein "flap" builds up in there, and they put in some "draino" type stuff that eats away at it.  So, while we were waiting for that to work, the nurse (Andrea again!), drew blood from my arm to do labs.  Then I saw my onc, Dr. Jahagirdar.  He told me I looked a little down, or tired, and asked if I was ok.  He always notices and always asks!  I told him I didn't sleep too well last night (I've had a cough), and I took an Ativan shortly before seeing him and that makes me sleepy.  He gets very concerned about his patients' mental health--such a wonderful doc!  Then I asked him about vit. b6 and glutamine.  They are supposed to help with neuropathy.  The studies are not done yet, but he said it wouldn't hurt to take them, so I think I will.  I still have neuropathy from last chemo, and the stuff I'll start in Aug. (Taxol), can make it worse.
All my labs were good (except hemoglobin [11.1], but that's an ongoing problem).  By that time my port was working fine, so we started the infusions.  Oh--when I first got there I was already nauseated, so I asked the nurse if I should take an Ativan (helps with nausea and anxiety).  She said absolutely!  She said a lot of people do.  Dr. J called it anticipatory nausea, and said I should just take one every time before I come in.  This started after several rounds of chemo last year.  It may not happen to most breast cancer patients because they don't usually have as many rounds.
So right now I feel really exhausted, yet not sure if the steroids will let me sleep.  I usually end up in the recliner, so I don't keep Rich awake.  I know I'll be using the bathroom alot, and I should keep drinking throughout the night--although I already feel waterlogged! :P
Well, gonna try to sleep...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kitchen Floors Should Not Have Dust Bunnies

Right after my last post I decided to sweep and mop the kitchen floor.  As I swept behind the bench, out came a big blob of dust.  The title to this blog is the thought that went through my mind when I saw that big dust bunny!  More creative than my usual titles, don't you think?
Well, I think I'm ready for round 2 tomorrow.  Especially now that my floor is clean!  :)  Although I never got around to paying bills.  Oh well, I'll be able to do it Tuesday.  Its later in the week that I get really "out of it".
Rich is doing some work from home in the morning tomorrow, then he'll take me to chemo.  I have to be there at 11.  They'll access my port to do labs, then I'll meet with my onc.  While I'm meeting with him, the lab results will come in and he'll give me the go ahead (assuming the labs are ok!).  Sometimes the labs take longer than usual, and then I just go back to the infusion room and hang out in a chair until we get the ok to start.  Then we still have to wait a bit to get the meds ordered.  I'll get my Emend pill, then Decadron and Zofran in the IV, then Adriamycin (aka red devil) administered by the nurse via large syringe into my tubing, then, finally, the Cytoxan via IV.  I think the Cytoxan takes about an hour. That's the nasty crap that can cause bladder irritation (or worse), so you have to drink tons of liquids the first 2 days, and go to the bathroom frequently to flush it all out.
I think I am mentally more prepared this time, since I know more what to expect.  I'm gonna "go with the flow", and just hang out and take it easy.  There is nothing I HAVE to do.  But, if I feel ok, then I'll do something.  Sometimes its nice to get out of the house for a little bit, so Rich might just take me on a drive, or to DQ, or something.  The weather is supposed to be really nice, so hopefully I'll feel like sitting out on the deck now and then.
Spiritually I think I am more prepared too.  I'll be reading Psalms and my special verses (see tab at top of page), and throughout it all I will be singing praises to God!  Today's sermon was about joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit (which reminds me I need to listen to last week's sermon online about love).  It was a good sermon to hear just before going into "the fog" of chemo.  Pastor Mark used Psalm 43, which is a good example of how to work through the times we feel God has rejected, or abandoned, us.  It reminds us to pray and worship to reconnect with God.
Oh--something I forgot to mention in my last post.  I was mentioning my spiritual gifts.  And I said faith was my top gift.  Now, I've come to understand that this is a good gift to have (as they all are), but at first I said to Alyssa "Faith, what can I do with that??" and Alyssa says "Duh mom, move mountains???"  And I just said "oh yeah, there is that."  Then started laughing at the stupidity of my statement!  I'm still laughing!  I was really looking for a "practical" gift that had something definite I could do for the church--- like the gift of hospitality--everyone knows what to do with that!  (ahem, a gift I don't have, by the way!)  I was telling a friend about this conversation, and he told me my faith has really moved him, and helped him with his faith.  I was very humbled by that, and am thankful to God for using me that way.  I never know what to say when someone tells me that, or that I inspire them.  I just silently give thanks to God.  Its such a privilege to show Him to others. 
In closing, here's the lyrics to a song we sang today--love this song, because Love really did come down to rescue me!
Love and blessings!

Love Came Down
If my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear Your voice
I’ll hold on to what is true though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith I will believe
Pre chorus:
I remind myself of all that You’ve done
And the life I have because Your Son
Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours I am forever Yours
Mountain high or valley low
I sing out remind my soul
I am Yours I am forever Yours
vs: 2
When my heart is filled with hope and every promise comes my way
When I feel Your hands of grace rest upon me
Staying desperate for You God, Staying humbled at Your feet
I will lift these hands and praise I will believe
I am Yours, all my days, I am Yours
copyright ©2009 Brian Johnson Music.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts and Stuff

Yeah, I really need to work on my blog titles!  I'll try to do better :).  Its just something I don't want to waste a lot of time on, I guess.
So, lots of messages from God today!  Do you know what I thought about a few minutes ago???  Are you ready for this???  The thought passed through my head, with a chuckle, that I need to stay sick long enough to learn all God has to teach me.  As soon as I had the thought, I back-tracked and went, "wait a minute God, don't me too seriously on that!!"  Whew!  Thankfully my God is an all-knowing God and He knows what I mean!  I wish I could be HEALTHY and learn all these same lessons, but I have to say, that when the business of life takes over, God sometimes get pushed out of the way.  Sad, but true.  I'm really praying that He helps me find a way to balance this.  When I was back working, I was so disappointed that I only had energy for work.  I was beat by the time I got home.  I love my job, but I love my life outside of work more.  Pray for me on this, ok?  I REALLY want to know what God's will is for my life.
Today my e-mail devotional was about spiritual gifts.  I had to laugh because the woman writing it, LeeAnn Rice, was disappointed when she took a spiritual gifts test.  She didn't feel that any of her gifts were the "important" ones.  I felt the same way!  Rich and I recently took a class at church on spiritual gifts and took an online test.  My top ones were faith, exhortation, encouragement, mercy, and music.  What the heck can a person do with that?  I wanted something concrete-->DO THIS TO SERVE GOD.  I was happy to find out (from my pastor) that although I don't have any musical ability, I minister to God through my personal worship.  I often have a song of praise going through my head, and when I'm not sure where to start when praying, I just start singing to God.  I wish I could tell you that I went on to discover what I can do with my other gifts, but I'm still working on that--but I do know that God can use me, whatever gifts I might have, and ALL gifts are important!  "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Note the word "whatever"!
I also learned today from Pastor Tom's blog (see link on sidebar), that "ordinary Christianity" is an oxymoron.  I agree!  All Christians are "EXTRA ordinary"  We are called to live "EXTRAordinary" lives.  I better get on that!  I hope I can keep that word at the forefront of my mind, and remember it in everything I do.
Ok, a health report:  I have been feeling REALLY good!  I have had plenty of energy the last few days, and even have been getting up early (6:30 today!).  Today I will think about what I want/need to get done before chemo on Monday. Oh--just thought of something.  I think today is payday--so I should pay bills.  Next week I won't care!
Yesterday I got out a bit and went shopping.  I need more shirts that have patterns on them.  Solid color shirts show any "uneveness" I might have, if ya know what I mean!  Patterns make it harder to tell.  It felt good to be out shopping.  Last time I went was a few days before my mastectomy and I ended up in tears because I thought I'd never be able to wear cute stuff again.  Yesterday I was happy with how everything looked!  And then I got a yummy Wild Berry Smoothie from Caribou!
Today I'm going to have lunch with a good friend.  I wanted to take her out as a little thank you for all her help with Shonna's party.
Looking at my calendar I see that its been 3 years today since Rich's craniotomy.  I'm happy to report that any neurological issues he had before, seem to have resolved themselves.  I hope he never has to go through anything like that again!  That is a scary surgery!
Well, better get going on that to-do list!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Pics and an Update

The top pic is of me getting the "red devil" (Adriamycin) at my first chemo on June 14th.  The nurse has to slowly inject it into my port tubing.  It is a toxic drug and can cause a lot of damage if it should leak out of the vein.  That is why the nurse has to do it, instead of it hanging in an iv bag like the other chemo drugs.  Notice that she gets gown, gloves, and glasses, and I don't :).  This nurse is one of 2 that I usually have.  Her name is Andrea, and we just love her (well, we love them all!).  She is so perky and happy, and she reminds us of our niece Kyla.  We love to hear her stories about her toddler, and she loves to look at our pics of family, and especially Brennan!  I hope she can always stay positive--she is such a bright face in a place that can be so depressing.  I don't know how those nurses do it!  It's definitely a God-given gift!
The 2nd pic is a few days later when I got my new haircut.  Everyone seems to really like it.  On Facebook I joked how I paid $38 for a 10 day haircut, because it should be falling out soon.  I'm glad I tried something new first.  Gotta have a little fun, right?  And now I'll have less hair to fall out.
I have to say that I had some "down" days last week.  Not really depressed, just down.  I had so hoped that this chemo would be easier than my last stuff. But it really wasn't. Maybe I was a little less "out of it", but just barely, and this was only my first round.  Thank goodness I only have 4 rounds of this stuff, instead of 12 like last time!  I will have more chemo (Taxol) after these 4 rounds, but maybe that won't be as bad?  I think I've heard that its not--but with me, you never know!  My nausea has been there most every day, but thankfully, no vomiting.  Today was the first day I didn't need any anti-nausea meds.  The past few days I've just needed one.  I also have had more mouth sores.  It got to the point where my whole mouth felt pretty hacked up, but it didn't get too painful.  I've been pretty good about rinsing my mouth with baking soda and water.  Today my mouth seems to be getting better.
The day after chemo I had to get a Neulasta shot.  I had no bone pain at all from it--until yesterday!  I suppose that makes sense, because the shot works for 2 weeks, and now is the time in my chemo cycle when my white blood counts are taking a hit.  I took ibuprofen and Tylenol (and a claritin), and it didn't get too bad.  I will keep alternating the pills to stay ahead of the pain. 
We had Shonna's grad party on Sunday at our church.  My sister, Dee, and my friend, Heidi, did a TON of work for the party.  I had lots of other helpers too!  I was a little out of it, and had to sit a lot, but I'm very happy with how things turned out.  And glad its over with!  That was the last graduation for my hubby's family.  We have a few years to wait before the last one on my side!  Emma is going in to 6th grade, I think?
Well, I'm sure there was more I was going to write about, but can't think of what that might be.  I'm feeling good today, and hoping to have some more good days before round 2 on Monday.  There's so much to do!  I need to just accept that I won't be able to do much next week, and go with it.  Its when I try to fight it, and can't, that I start to feel depressed.  Cancer really sucks (I so hate that word, but nothing sounds as right).  I will try to remember to spend more time reading Psalms and reading my Bible verses that helped me so much last time.  Like I said before, I kept trying to fight the fatigue, instead of finding ways to make it through better.  Be warned, family!  I'll be taking to my room and doing what I have to, to get through this!  I know it sucks for them too.  I'm sure they're just as sick and tired of watching me be sick and tired, as I am feeling that way (did that make sense?).  But they are wonderful and strong and take good care of me!  Keep them in your prayers!
Love and blessings to you all!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Steroid Buzz

The steroids are catching up with me!  Didn't sleep much past 3 am last night--so I'm really tired, yet jittery with a racing mind at the same time! 
I'm happy to report that the nausea, so far, has been minimal.  I'll take my last steroid today, and hopefully the Emend (which is for delayed nausea) will keep the nausea away for the next few days--of course I always have my back-ups!  The tiredness has been the biggest issue, but so far not as extreme as what I went through last time!  Cat naps seem to help a lot.
Yesterday Dee took me to look at wigs at the Am. Cancer Society.  Shonna went with and she texted photos of me to Alyssa, who couldn't be there.  I got one that's a little shorter than I wear my hair now, but similar to what I was thinking of for my haircut today.  I'll bring it with and have my hair guy look it over and trim/thin if needed.  There was another one that is a little longer that looked really natural on me too, so I might order it from their catalog.  These are not high quality wigs, but I think they'll look ok.  I'm not going to buy anything too expensive for such a short time.  Now I just need to get moving and order some scarves and hats!  I'm running out of time!  I'm trying to have fun with all this--but I will miss my hair.  Hopefully I won't be too upset when the time comes to buzz it off--probably in less than 2 weeks now, can you believe it?
There is a lot of talk on the forums about some of the "stupid" things people say when they find out you have cancer.  One of the ones that upset some women was when someone said "Well now you can get a nice pair of perky boobs!"  I had to chuckle because that was what I said about myself when telling people I had breast cancer!  Now, let me assure you, that the "new" breasts, if I choose to get them, will not be "nice".  I could potentially look good in a sweater,  but they aren't pretty.  I think that's what upsets some people, because if you've never seen reconstructed breasts you have no idea how "not nice" they can look.  The worst thing anyone ever said to me was right after I found out I had colon cancer, and was still pretty upset about it.  They (and I don't even remember who it was anymore)  told me about someone they knew who had it and then told me that person died from it!  How upsetting that was to me then!  Jeez, think a little people!  But now that doesn't upset me, its just reality.  Just be careful what you say to the newly diagnosed, they are the most touchy.  The best thing to say?  "That really stinks--what can I do to help you?"
Well, there are a few things I really need to do, so I should make an effort to get them done.  Everything is such an effort--and that includes eating.  We ordered pizza last night because I didn't eat much during the day, and all of a sudden I was really hungry, and wanted something I could taste!  But I'm happy with the scale again  :)
Today's verse on my e-mail devotional?  ""For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)  A good reminder for me today.  Isn't it wonderful how God finds ways to talk to me? Amazing!
Blessings to all!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tx 1, Day 2

Tx is the abbreviation for treatment.  I got used to using abbreviations from the discussion boards!
Last night the nausea got a little worse. I took a Compazine, then a few hours later a Zofran, then about midnight I took and Ativan.  Then, about a half hour later I was out and slept soundly until Rich got up at 6!  I was in the recliner, and I rarely sleep that soundly there!  I heard him going out the door to get the paper, and I thought to myself, I don't usually hear the door that well from the bedroom--then I realized I was in the recliner, and smiled and said thank you God!  I was happy I slept that well!
Today I'm happy to say that I didn't have much nausea.  Just feel tired and out of it.  Not much interest in eating--had to force myself to eat breakfast and lunch!  I am able to function, and do what needs to be done, but I'd probably rather sit and stare at birds all day!
Rich came home from work a bit early to take me down to get my Neulasta shot.  Have I explained that in the past?  It helps keep the white blood cells up.  This chemo knocks them out, so the shot is given routinely, instead of waiting for them to go down, like with my last chemo.  The shot has the potential to cause a lot of bone pain, so I took my blog friend Michelle's advice and took a claritin.  Some people have said that it helps somehow, not a lot of docs are recommending it yet, but my nurse said it wouldn't hurt.  Some recommend taking it with Aleve, but I forgot to get some, so I took Ibuprofen instead.  With the neupogen shots (similar to Neulasta, but shorter acting) I used to take, alternating ibu. and Tylenol throughout the day helped alot.  I also have percocet if it gets real bad.  The nurse that gave me the shot today, Maggie, remembered how bad the neupogen hurt me last time and was real worried about how this one would effect me.  She said to alternate the ibu. and Tylenol, and call if it doesn't work.  I told her I had some Percocet, she told me to take it if I needed it, but call and let the doc know that I needed it. She was sure he'd be ok with it.  Hope I don't get too sore!
I've been trying to keep up with the liquids, but am getting tired of it! I find I am needing the colace and senekot-s too! 
Tomorrow Dee is taking me to look at wigs.  Shonna might go with, but unfortunately Alyssa can't.  Rachel and fam are up north at a cabin.  I'm kind of excited to look at wigs.  I really need to get some scarves too.  If I remember tomorrow, maybe I'll order some online.
I made my appt. for a haircut Thurs. afternoon.  I'll get a "normal" short haircut--it'll be fun to try something new.  Then when my hair starts to fall out, I have a friend who can buzz it real short. 
Well, I've to to quit now--too many typos I have to keep fixing!
God has been good, and hearing your prayers!  Thanks!
To my cousin Jill--not sure if you read this, but if you do send me an e-mail and give me an update!!
Love ya all!~

Monday, June 14, 2010

Post-Chemo Post

(Most of this is taken from my post at the discussion boards)
I just got back from my first AC treatment. The whole thing, including labs, took about 3.5 hours. Next time will be a bit longer because I'll see my onc. too. I got Decadron and Zofran through my port (seems to be the standard at my cancer center). Oh--because Emend worked well for me in the past, the nurse made sure I got some today.   I'm not sure if the doc was going to give it to me anyway, or just did because the nurse asked. So before the infusion started I took an Emend pill, and then I'll take 1 a day for the next 2 days. Emend helps with delayed nausea. After the pre-meds, the nurse gave me the Andriamycin (red devil). It was pushed in with a large syringe. She pushes it very slowly so it mixes with the saline that is also going in. Every couple of minutes she would pull it back to pull blood out to make sure my veins were ok. She said problems are less likely to happen with a port, but they still take precautions.  It is tough on veins and can cause a lot of damage if some spills out.  She did 3 syringes of that @ 5 min. each. Oh, and she gave me ice chips to help ward off mouth sores while I was getting the drug. Then she started the Cytoxan. That bag took an hour.

So, other than the nerves and upset stomach from being back at chemo, everything went well. It helps that I'm familiar with the place, and the nurses know me. I had one of my favorite nurses, Andrea, today.  She and Cheryl are my usual nurses, but they all are great, and stop to chat with me.  I brought pictures, of course, to share with them!  I did take an Ativan to help with anxiety and nausea before I went, and it helped.  I just am a little tired and blah feeling. I've noticed most people feel the worst a few days out, and the nurse agreed that that's what usually happens. My throat seems a little scratchy too, hmmm. Since I got enough steroids in the infusion, I won't take a pill until the morning. Hopefully I can sleep tonight, but that is somewhat unlikely. I'll probably end up in the recliner flipping through channels
I'll be taking it easy the rest of the day.  Starting to feel more yucky--a little nausea perhaps? idk, we'll see what happens.  I have to drink lots and lots of fluids too.
I'll post more tomorrow if I feel up to it.  Oh- I have to get my Neulasta shot at 4pm.  I think Rich is going to take me and just drive around while waiting for me instead of paying for a few min. of parking.  I'm REALLY hoping I don't get too much back pain.  I'll probably take ibuprofen before I go, just in case.  I've heard that taking a Claritin helps too.  My nurse has just heard a little about that from other patients, but she said it wouldn't hurt to try it if I want to.
Take care,

Pre-Chemo Post

Its raining, again.  At first I thought Seriously?  But now I am enjoying the soothing sounds...I was watching the squirrel in the bird feeder dish eating away in the pouring rain.  Every now and then he'd (she'd?) stop and shake off all the water.  They are pests, but cute too!
I'm taking it easy and slow today.  Enjoying my morning doing whatever I want.  I'm trying to remember the things I'll need from my last chemo experience.  I got out all my pills and put them back on the bathroom counter.  I was relieved to find I still have some Ativan.  It was intended for nausea, but it is also an anti-anxiety med., and I plan on taking one before chemo today.  I think I will be nervous and probably nauseated just sitting in that chair again.  Some of the other meds I have are colace and senekot (needed for the nausea meds!), compazine (nausea), Ambien (many sleepless nights, esp. with the steroids!), oh, and I forgot to look for the Zofran--its also for nausea, and is very expensive. 
I am so blessed to have such good insurance.  I almost feel guilty about it.  It hasn't denied me any expensive drugs or treatments (made the doc jump through a few hoops, but at least I got what I needed!).  I just read that insurance will be going up quite a bit next year, and deductibles will be increased.  Which wouldn't be so bad if we could keep our health spending accounts, but I think those are being axed next year thanks to Obamacare.  I really worry about what's going to happen to our good healthcare...  I prayed last night that God will continue to bless us with good health insurance!
I hope this chemo doesn't hit me too hard.  I'm most worried about throwing up--didn't do that at all with the last stuff.  I have a wig appt. on Wed., and I want to get my haircut on Thurs., so I hope I'm able to do all that!  Plus, we are getting ready for Shonna's party on Sunday.  A lot of people who are getting the same chemo as me say that the worst days start on about day 3, and last for a couple of days.  Of course, everyone is different.  One drug, Andriamycin (aka red devil), will make my urine red for a few days.  A friend commented that its called red devil because "its red and nasty!".  The other drug, Cytoxin, can cause bladder irritation so I will need to drink LOTS of liquids to flush it out.  The steroids I get pre-chemo for nausea make sleeping difficult, and the other anit-nausea drugs can make me constipated--so all in all not a fun time! But, hopefully not too bad either.
I had a hard time getting to sleep last night.  My brain was busy thinking about chemo stuff.  Since I was awake, I thought it would be a good time to talk with God.  Praise songs were going through my head, and lots of prayers for others fighting cancer.  I discussed with God what I would like to get out of all this (hey--we are supposed to bring our requests to God, and pray for things like wisdom!  Not sure when He's going to answer?).  I also asked Him what He wants me to get out of this.  I really get the sense that part of what He wants, at least, is that I spend more time just doing this--talking to Him and reading His word.  He wants more relationship with me.  Isn't that amazing?  He wants me to talk to Him!  WOW.  We were created to have a relationship with our Creator.  Sometimes its hard for Christians to grasp that.  We think we have to do certain things.  But, remember, we are saved by Grace, not works. Yup, pretty amazing.
Well, I better go start drinking water--I think I'll start with a glass of Citrucel...
My appt. is at one today...prayers appreciated!
Blessing to you all!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Been Busy!

I've been busy since I last posted on Monday.  Tues. my prosthetic fitter appt. got cancelled, but I did go down to see the physical therapist.  She mostly taught me about lymphedema-what it is, how to prevent it, and what to do if I get it.  We talked a little about exercises for the arm and shoulder, but I have most of my movement back in my arm already. 
Wed. I went to Superior Med. to be fitted for a prosthesis and bras.  That's the place the lady that I was supposed to meet with on Tues. is from.  Its in a nearby town--closer than the hospital.  Since it had only been 2.5 weeks since my surgery, she didn't think I'd want the real deal yet--just the soft form.  But I told her I need the real thing because the soft ones are too light and too hard to match.  I can always switch later in the day if it gets to be too much.  Every morning when I put my bra on with the "falsie" I think to myself I can't believe I'm doing this.  It still seems so weird to me.  I'm not sad about it anymore--but its still hard to believe it really happened.
After that I went to Party City with Rachel and Alyssa to buy stuff for Shonna's grad party.  Brennan was with too and he looked so cute sitting up in the shopping cart!  What a big boy he is now!
Thursday a good friend and prayer warrior, Marge, stopped by for a short visit and brought us a meal.  We ate it that night, as I was tired from shopping.  Thanks Marge!! It was very good!  Later in the afternoon my mom, Alyssa and I went to Sam's Club to do some more shopping for the grad party.  Wow, have I spent a lot of money the last few days!!
Friday I was supposed to go for a wig fitting at the American Cancer Society.  I can get one free there because insurance doesn't pay for it (I'm not complaining--insurance has paid for everything else, including my prosthesis and bras!).  I don't want to spend a lot of money on something I'll only wear for a few months.  Anyways, I said "supposed to go" because I woke up very sick and could hardly move!  I think it was some sort of flu.  Thankfully not the stomach kind!  But all my joints and back ached and I had a fever.  I took lots of ibuprofen and Tylenol throughout the day.  The saddest part was that I couldn't go to see my baby graduate!  My head hurt too bad and I was very weak feeling.  Jaren recorded it for me and Rich took pictures.  And it will be playing on our local TV station too.  Shonna didn't seem to mind, but I cried!  I'm so proud of her.  She is a "graduate with distinction" and had her pic in the local paper, along with the other top academic achievers. We are so blessed to have such wonderful daughters!
Today started off slow.  I was still very achy over night and ended up sleeping on the recliner for a few hours.  Still had the fever this morning, but I think it is gone now.  I'm just a little weak and tired.  I was able to go to a grad party this afternoon.
I still have so much to do for Shonna's party next week.  I start chemo on Monday, and have a wig appt. on Wed.  I hope I can make it to that one.  I need to get one asap.  My hair should start to fall out about 10-14 days after my first chemo.  I need more scarves and hats too!  I think I'm going to get it cut shorter later this week, and then figure out a plan for getting it shaved when the time comes.  Another thing I have a hard time believing I'll have to do!!  NOT looking forward to it.  Its going to be hard not to just hibernate for the next 6 months or so.  I'm so thankful for my church family because I know they will see me through this, and not care what I look like!  And, of course, my family is soooo supportive too. 
The good thing about starting chemo is that I'll feel like I'm doing something to fight the cancer.  I do worry about it traveling to other parts of my body.  That's my human nature.  But the Holy Spirit, living inside me, reminds me that its not for me to worry about--it's all in God's hands.
When I was at the hospital on Tues. I stopped into the cancer center and asked one of the nurses of I could take an Ativan with the type of chemo I'm getting.  She said yes!  So I will be taking one before I go on Monday.  It's for anxiety and nausea.  I think I'll have both just walking in there knowing I have to get chemo again.  I'm a bit nervous about being back in that chair!  Thankfully I have wonderful nurses caring for me.  And Rich will be right there with me too.  :)
Well, that's a long post!  I guess it usually ends up that way doesn't it?
Thanks for the continued prayers!  God really is faithful and hears them.  There is a reason....
Love you all!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Got the Date

Well, chemo starts next Monday, the 14th.  Saw my onc. today and he says I'm lookin' good and we should get chemo started.  I asked him how long he thought the tumor had been growing, and he thought probably not very long.  Her2 cancer (the type I have) is a fast growing cancer.  I'm thankful there is Herceptin to help fight it.  A few years ago it was much tougher to fight this type.
I had an abbreviated chemo class.  We were there early and since the nurse (Cheryl) knew I'd been through chemo before, she just sat with us in the little library at the cancer center and briefly went over a few things.  The biggest difference between this new cocktail and the one I had before is the hair loss.  We talked a little about wigs, and when to expect the hair to fall out, etc.  The other important thing to remember is that one drug can cause bladder irritation, so I have to drink lots and lots of water to flush it out of my system as quickly as possible.  The nurse I have for the first chemo will take her time and go over everything with me again, and I'll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
I have a lot to do the next few days!  Tomorrow its back to Regions for 2 more appts.--the prosthetics fitter and the physical therapist.  Then  I want to get as much planning for Shonna's grad party done as I possibly can, so I'll have some shopping to do.  The grad ceremony is Friday night.  *sigh*  Its going to be difficult to watch my last baby walk across that stage....
Yesterday was a great day.  Rich, Rachel, and I became official members at Bridgewood Community Church.  We already felt like we "belonged", but it was nice to make it official.  One of my best friends was up visiting from Kansas.  I haven't seen her in several years.  We used to be neighbors when our kids were little.  It was so good to see her!  She even came to church with us!  Then we went to lunch.  I'm hoping to see her again when we move Shonna down to Kansas City.  Later in the afternoon we went to the grad party of a nice young lady that has been friends with Shonna since they were little kids in elementary school.  Such a nice group of kids!  It was nice to visit with them and their parents!
Life has been good lately.  I have very little discomfort from the surgery.  I have almost full use of my left arm back--just need to work at it a little more.  I have not been the least bit sad about my mastectomy in the last week.  That's very surprising considering how upset I was at first.  That's the power of prayer!  I know people were praying for me to be at peace about it, and I am.  I have an old breast form that my mom dug out of her drawer, and it works very well for me--I can wear "normal" clothes again and not look too funny.  I'm becoming quite attached to it, but at the end of the day it gets a little uncomfortable and I slip it out.  I find it quite funny, when its time to go to bed, I have to pick up my "breast" and carry it back to the bedroom with me.  Some women call them "foobs", but to me, its not a fake breast, it is my breast--I just get to carry it around sometimes :).  Well, I think its funny, sorry if you don't :P.
Please continue to pray for me to have minimal side effects from chemo.  My biggest prayer is that when all this is said and done, I will be closer to God.  I ask to be able to hear His voice better, and have the Holy Spirit be more powerful in my life.  I believe I will be cancer free (ok, I believe that at the moment, but I'm not going to pretend that I'll never worry about it again!).  David ran toward Goliath, knowing God would save him, and Esther also had to face her fears and walk into a situation that could kill her.  Both wanted God's will in their life, instead of a "safe" life.  That's what I'm working on.
Time for bed!
Blessings to you all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Good Couple of Days!

I've been feeling pretty good the past few days--physically and emotionally.  I've been spending a lot of time on the breast cancer discussion boards.  I'm part of the "May surgery group" and "June chemo group".  I'm one of the few not having immed. reconstruction.  Its interesting to read what others' are going through, so I'll have some idea if I decide to do recon.  If I have radiation, that will affect what type of recon. I can have.  I've been adding my 2 cents about chemo, telling others' what I learned last time around.  I'm also learning what to expect from this chemo.  I thought it might be easier than last year, but that's not necessarily the case!  I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it affects me.  There are a lot of people praying for easy side effects!
Today I had lunch with 2 friends from church.  It was so nice to get out of the house, and I realized, the first time I've been behind the wheel in several days!  We had a nice time chatting, and they prayed for me.  Love those 2 ladies!
When I got home from lunch it was so nice out that I brought some stuff to read out on the deck.  I put on shorts and just had my very white legs in the sun for awhile.  I love this weather--70's and low dewpoint!
Then Brennan came over in the afternoon--we always get him on Thurs. because Rachel works before Ken comes home.   Brennan has grown so much recently!  He rolls from back to front and then back again--and he'll do it over and over if he knows we are watching!  He can hold the bottle by himself, if he wants to, and sit up and play with his toys for a long time.  We put a pillow behind him because every now and then he lays back unexpectedly!  He's really caching up!
I have a busy weekend coming up, then my appts. next week.  I'm trying to enjoy every minute of feeling well, knowing it'll end soon!  And yet I want to get chemo started--the sooner it starts, the sooner it can END!
Love ya all!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Post-op Appointment

Saw my surgeon, Dr. Morris, this morning.  I was a bit (ok, A LOT) nervous about having my drain removed.  But, thanks to prayers, IT DIDN'T HURT!  I hardly even felt it.  It wasn't the hard plastic paddle that came out last time, it was more of a flexible plastic drain this time.  Barb, the nurse, said it helps that the breast (or what's left of it) is numb from the surgery.  What do I call that area?  The surgeon left a lot of tissue behind, so its not completely flat like a "chest".  Hmmmm, have to see what the ladies say on the forums! 
I found out there was a lot of DCIS spread throughout the breast, so the surgeon thought I made the right choice with the mastectomy.  I was so relieved!  I've have been working through my feelings all weekend, thinking that there wasn't anymore cancer found, and trying to be at peace about it.  You really learn alot about yourself when you go through something like this.  I had to do some soul searching to find out why this was so upsetting for me.
Now, of course, we wonder about the other breast.  Most of what was found in my left breast wasn't seen on mammogram or MRI.  Dr. Morris said if I really wanted, I could have the other one removed now, but he thinks I should concentrate on fighting what we know is there and wait until I'm finished with chemo and make my decision then.  I totally agreed with that.  It can wait another year.
Have some appointments coming up next week.  Monday I meet with my onc, and have my chemo class.  I should get the wig info at that time too.  Then Tues. I see a prosthetics fitter and a physical therapist.  The therapist will teach me about lymphedema, and show me exercises for my shoulder.
I'm thinking I'll start chemo on Monday, June 14th, but we'll see what Dr. J says.
A BIG thank-you to Dee-Dee for bringing a big bag of treats over for the cancer center.  They were very grateful, as always!
And a BIG HUG and THANK YOU to my wonderful husband, whom I love dearly, for all his support and unending love.  I can never thank him enough for all he's done for me.  :)))
Have a GREAT day everyone!