Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Surprise, a Birthday, and a Visit!

Guess who came to visit on Sunday?  Shonna!!  I haven't seen her since she left on Aug 8th!  She called us at 11:15 Sat. night and said she was going to drive all night to spend the day with us Sunday.  She got in at 6:45am Sunday, and left at 6:30 Monday morning.  It was soooo nice to see her.  Her sisters were very surprised and happy to see her.  She went to Brennan's birthday party, then spent the rest of the afternoon and eve with a few of her friends.
Yes, Brennan turned one!  Rachel had family over for a little party on Sunday afternoon.  He loved being the center of attention!  What a cutie.  I will be watching him 3 days again this week.  Alyssa usually comes to help a little, if she is not too busy.  It's hard to find enough stuff for him to do here.  I need to buy him some more toys!  Rachel would like it if I didn't go back to work, so I could continue to babysit.  She even said she'd pay me.  Sure is tempting!  She and Ken are continuing the process of adopting little "Joshua" (not his real name) from E. Europe.  They may have a fundraiser at our church in December.  I'll be sure to let you all know the details!
Today I went up to the school for a little visit.  I had an Avon order to drop off, and a stack of Avon books.  I was there about 2 hours in the lounge visiting with everyone.  It was nice to be out socializing, and laughing!  What a wonderful group of women!  I will be going up there every 2 weeks to drop off orders and books.  Everyone said I looked good, and thought I looked good in scarves.  I said my biggest dilemma is whether or not to wear mascara on my 3 eyelashes I have left!  (actually I have about 3 on one eye and maybe 6 on the other!) 
Speaking of that, my eyebrows are still there, but very thin.  My leg hair is growing slowly, so I shave about once every 2 weeks.  I'm not sure about the hair on my head, it might be growing, but its hard to tell.  I should shave a little patch so I can watch the progress!  I have a lot of 1-2" hair left that never fell out, so its hard to tell if something is growing.  Sure looking forward to getting rid of the scarves!
My neuropathy continues to get worse on my feet.  :(  But other than that, and some tiredness, I'm doing pretty well!  The 4 or 5 days of bone pain are done now, and each day this week I should have a little more energy.
Well, Rich is home from work with some pizza, so I better go eat!
Love and Blessings!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Taxol #3 Update

Just a little update on me.  The Taxol pain set in yesterday.  It starts as mild aches and pains, and ibuprofen helps, but by evening I need Percocet.  Tonight I need 2 percocet!  But at least 2 works pretty well.  Just minor pains now.
I've been watching Brennan alot lately.  This is becoming his 2nd home!  Rachel has been picking up extra shifts to make money for the adoption.  But she said she's only going to pick up one extra shift a week from now on.  She wants more time at home with her little boy, and just more time in general!  I love having him here, even when I don't feel well.  My mom is here too, to help when I need to sit for a bit.  Alyssa comes when she can to help also.  Brennan is taking steps on his own, and growing so fast!  He is so funny--he loves to make us laugh!
My dream would be to take the rest of the school year off and babysit my grandson as often as needed!  In the spring, when Rachel and Ken have to go to get their new son, I would be able to take care of Brennan while they are gone, and then I'll have a new grandson to take care of when they bring him home!  Maybe if everyone buys Avon from me, I'll be able to afford to take the time off!  Well, that'd be ALOT of Avon! :)
I talked to Shonna for a bit today.  Don't talk to her as often as I would like.. Neither of us are much for phone conversations!  She has been busy this week and is enjoying herself.  God is showing her some wonderful things and revealing Himself to her.  Can't wait to go down to see her in a few weeks!
I miss spending time with Alyssa too.  She is a busy young wife, cheerleading coach, and student!  Last year she was living here and we had a lot of time together.  I'm thankful for that time we had, and I'm glad both her and Rachel live so close!  When Shonna comes home we should plan some "girl time", no hubbies, or babies!
Well, time to get ready for bed.  I've been sleeping in the recliner, but I go back to bed with Rich and we listen to a radio program on the Ipod.  We've been listening to old Dragnet and Superman shows lately.
Hope everyone has a great Friday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Taxol #3

All went well today.  We were there from 8am to about 2:15pm.  Blood counts were ok.  Hemoglobin still at 10.2--same as last week.  I was hoping it would continue to creep up, but at least it didn't go down.
My meeting with my onc. was pretty short today.  He has a "Fellow" with him most of the time (usually a different one each time), and the Fellow does the exam, after Dr. J and I talk.  They do the usual look in the eyes and mouth, listen to heart, feel lymph nodes.  No poking of the tummy today, but he did listen to it.  Neither one of them checked my neuropathy, but we did discuss it.  I told Dr. J that I was planning on going back to work the beg. of Jan., and I'd have to be outside doing recess for around an hour (not really sure how long this year, but assuming it will be at least an hour).  He said if the neuropathy isn't better by then, he doesn't want me outside that long.  He said he would write me a note, if needed (which it will be).  We'll just have to wait and see how the feet and fingers are, and how the rest of me feels.  I might have to take a longer leave, or have my job duties adjusted (not an easy task!).
I also asked him if he could reduce my steroid drip today, so I can sleep tonight.  He said that would be ok, so he cut it in half.  So now, instead of having a bit of energy, I feel very groggy.  I just hope I can sleep tonight!  Otherwise I will regret cutting back on the steroids!
The Benedryl was cut in half too, and that was because I haven't had any bad reactions to the Taxol.  My nurse ran it in slower though too, so I wouldn't get that awful woozy, nauseated feeling I got last time.  I just felt it a little bit this time.
I'm still getting prayer every Sunday.  My Senior Pastor, Mark, told me several weeks ago that he feels that we should keep praying, and I'm supposed to remind him if he forgets.  The past 2 weeks have just been quick prayers, but that's enough!  God knows what is on our hearts.  There have been times where I wanted to just quietly slip out ( I hate bothering people!), but someone always found me to pray over me!  I told Rich the Sunday before this past one to make sure I get prayer, because I think it's really what God wants me to do, so Rich tracked down Mark yesterday, before we left.  Also, a church member came up to me and gave me a Bible verse that popped into her head when she saw me in church.  When we (the congregation) were greeting each other, the woman behind me asked me my name and told me she had been praying for me--she didn't even know my name!!  I'm getting teary-eyed typing this--God is so good to me.  I feel so blessed!!
Here is the Bible verse given to me: "And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:20 NLT  Isn't that awesome?  Thank you Father!  That Bible verse isn't just for me (although it's just what I needed to hear!), it's for EVERYONE. 

Jesus is with you ALWAYS. 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tomorrow is #3 and #5

Tomorrow (Monday) I will have Taxol tx # 3, and Herceptin tx #5.  It will be a long day as usual. Last time was 7 hours!  It will be a little shorter tomorrow if Dr. Jahagirdar is on time...but chances of that are slim! :)
We have to be at Regions Cancer Center at 8am!  Ugh! That means I have to get up around 6!  It doesn't take me too long to get ready, though, without any hair to style. :P And I could just drink a Slimfast for breakfast.  It doesn't hold off the hunger very long, but then we could get cinnamon rolls at the cafe at Regions!  I usually have a little bit of time after seeing the onc to get some food if I want.  He doesn't order the drugs (chemo, etc.) until I see him and he checks my blood counts, and then it takes a little bit for the pharmacy to get the drugs sent over.
I will have only half the Benedryl because I haven't had any reaction to the Taxol so far.  I'm going to see if we can reduce the steroids too, so maybe I can actually get some sleep tomorrow night!  My nurse, Andrea, said we will do the Benedryl drip slower this time, since I had got so woozy from it last time.
I don't know how she remembers so much!  She puts a post-it on a private room to save it for me, she remembers that I like to plug my nose when getting the saline flush (otherwise I can taste it and it tastes terrible!), she knows I need a tegederm patch over my port because the other one makes me itch, and now she remembers that I like a bandaid on my port after I am done because the tape she used to use made me itch.  The nurses there are all angels!  One nurse that I used to have, and still chat with, is a breast cancer survivor herself.  And she just recently had a recurrence.  We've had a lot to talk about when we see each other.
Other news:  I'm selling Avon again!  I've been an Avon Rep off and on for about 20 years.  I quit about 2 years ago, and Rachel took over my "Avon Empire" (as she put it!).  Well, she has since quit, so I decided to start again!  I just can't stay away.  Many friends and family members are happy to have their Avon lady back.  If you would like my website address, please send me an e-mail to nuttyoaks@gmail.com, and I will e-mail you back with a link to my website, and a free shipping code.
Hope the week ahead holds many blessings for all of you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Herceptin #4

I wish I knew how many total treatments of Herceptin I will have, so I could do a "countdown".  I know it's a year, but is it a year exactly?  And now I'm getting the infusions weekly, but I will probably switch to every 3 weeks after the Taxol is done. Oh well. No big deal.  Maybe I can get more details from the onc (like is it exactly a year) and then I can sort of count down months or something.
My infusion was at 11 today.  Before my nurse, Andrea, got started, she sat down with me and asked about side effects of the Taxol.  I told her about the pain, that it was like last time, and I've been taking Percocet for it.  She said if the Percocet doesn't work, I should call and let them know and there might be something else they can give me.  I hope it doesn't come to that because I really don't want anything stronger!  There were times when I had to take 2 Percocets, and I could still feel the pain, but it helped enough that the pain was bearable.  Most of the time I just took one and sometimes 1 and a half.  This morning about 5:30 I just took a half a pill because I had to drive at 10:30.  I didn't have much pain at all, just a little achy most of the day.  I took some ibuprofen with lunch, and could probably use some more now.  Maybe I'll wait and take a Percocet at bedtime to help me sleep.  The pain always seems worse when I'm trying to sleep.  I usually end up in the recliner because laying down makes my legs hurt more.
We (Rich and I) asked Andrea if she knew what Taxol was doing that caused the pain.  She said some (docs maybe?) think its more like nerve pain, but some say its actually bone pain.  The Taxol irritates the nerves or bones somehow.  I have heard of some people getting meds for nerve pain to help with the Taxol pain.  I'm fine with Percocet, as long as it keeps working. 
When the pain started Thurs. night it was real bad, and I was worried it would be much worse this time, or last a lot longer.  I don't know if I could handle it if it was so bad the pain meds didn't help.  I guess I could always get stronger drugs, or like one friend told me, go to the ER.   Its just kind of scary when it starts.  It seems maybe a little worse than last round, but has lasted the same amount of time.
My neuropathy is getting worse, and of course I always worry about that being permanent.  Although I should remember that I have had prayer several times, and someone usually prays that God will restore my body, and take away all the damage that has been done by the cancer and the treatment.
Brennan was here again today, and will be tomorrow too.  He is such a busy little guy--he walks around the furniture carrying his plastic hammer and talking up a storm.. Then he makes his way to the bookcase and pulls a bunch of books off and sits and "reads" them!  So busy!
Rachel has been working more to make extra money for the boy they want to adopt.  They have made a commitment to a 3 year old boy with down syndrome that is in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  He will need heart surgery right away.  He is a happy boy, but hasn't been allowed to do anything physical because of his heart.  He'll need a lot of p.t. and o.t. after his surgery.  It costs a lot of money to adopt him, and then they will have to miss a lot of work to be out of the country to finalize the adoption.  It probably won't happen until next March, but I'm praying it happens sooner!  In the meantime Rachel is trying to raise money by having some fundraisers.  She is having a garage sale at my sister's house near the Elementary school on Thursday and Saturday.  Some people have donated stuff, and all the money will go for the adoption. If you are in the area please stop by!! Please consider financially supporting this little boy so he can get his heart surgery!  The special needs kids in the E. European countries that don't get adopted get put into institutions at the age of 4 or 5 and they often die soon after.  And whether you are able to help financially or not, please pray for the little guy  (Ken calls him "Littlekid").  We are all so excited to have him in our family!!
Well, its been a tiring day--hoping I can sleep better tonight, and have a bit more energy tomorrow!
May God bless all my readers!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good Weekend

In spite of my pain, I had a good weekend.  For one thing the weather was gorgeous--sunny and 70's!
Saturday, Rich, Alyssa, and Jaren were going to go to Eddington's for lunch (a soup place) then to the Grand Opening of Lifeway Christian Bookstore (formerly Northwestern Books).  I was in pain from the chemo, and taking Percocet, so I figured I should stay home.  Rich wanted me to go with, so I thought about it and decided I could sit home by myself and be in pain, or I could get out of the house, spend time with my family,  and be in pain.  If I needed to, I could sit in the van while the others were in the store.  It turned out pretty well.  I had some soup and yummy breadsticks, then went to the store I LOVE (and spend too much money at!).  Being around others and doing something I enjoyed actually took my mind off the pain, so it didn't bother me so much.  Rich found some chairs in the store and pointed them out to me, so when standing got to be too much, I had a place to sit down.
There is a store next to the bookstore that is a consignment home goods store.  I think it's called Turnstyle.  Shonna said there is one in Roseville too (we were in Coon Rapids).  I have been trying to figure out what color I wanted to paint Shonna's old room ( my new "spare" room), so I wanted to look for a picture to hang on the wall and get my color ideas from that.  I found a great painting, with a neat frame for only $20.  The frame alone is worth more than that.  It has greens, yellows, blues, and peach in it.  I was very excited to find it.  I also found 2 metal pictures for the kitchen.  I am really bad at buying stuff to decorate the house, so I was very happy to have made these purchases!
Today I got up late (after 9!), and didn't think I'd make it to church. Rich said it was ok if we went late, if I wanted to go.  I figured if I could be out shopping I could make it to church!  I could always go out to the lobby area if sitting got too uncomfortable. Again, I'm glad I went.  I always feel better after some good praise and worship songs!  I did have to sit down for awhile during worship, and near the end I had to take another pain pill.  After church we ate lunch at Wendy's (with Alyssa and Jaren), then Jaren had to go to work so Alyssa went to Wal-mart with us.  I needed to pick up a few things, and also wanted to look to see if they had any nice purple bathroom stuff.  I know Kohl's has some stuff I kinda like, but I want to look at some other stores too to see what they have.  I also need some pictures or wall hangings of some sort for the bathroom.
After we got home, Rich and I sat out on the deck for a bit to enjoy the beautiful day.  I finally got around to cutting clumps of hair off the dog--there was dog hair flying around everywhere!
I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive husband!  He helps me to get out and do things, even though I could end up being a big inconvenience--like if I started feeling sick and wanted to go home in the middle of a shopping excursion.  He's become a very patient man!  We just celebrated our 26th anniversary!  We always joke that some of my relatives probably bet money that we wouldn't last very long.  Well, I can tell you, without God in our lives we definitely would not have made it this far!  But I'm so glad we did!!
Tomorrow I get my weekly infusion of Herceptin.  I'm not supposed to drive while taking the pain pills, so in the morning I will just take ibuprofen.  Then I'll drive to Rich's work, and from there he'll drive to the hospital.
We'll probably get a little lunch after, and when I get home I'll be babysitting Brennan for a few hours.
I'm hoping to feel good this week so I can get some more stuff done around here.  There is so much organizing and cleaning I'd like to get done.
Well, time for bed!
Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Everything Hurts!

The pain started yesterday.  Started the same way it did last time--I start to get a little achy in the morning, and by evening I hurt all over.  I took 2 Percocets last night, and that didn't even take the pain away!  But it does take the edge off, so its bearable.  I ache all over, but the worst is from the hips down.  I really want to know what it is about the Taxol that causes this pain.  I'll try to remember to ask my onc. next time I see him.  I couldn't find anything online about it--other than that Taxol does cause pain, but not why or how.
Yesterday I was really tired too. That happened last round too--one day of being really tired all day.  Today I've hardly been able to get out of the recliner, but that's mostly because I was awake a lot last night, and the drugs are making me really "out of it" this time.  I'm hoping (and praying!) that I'll just have a few days of this, then several days of feeling good!
We have almost finished painting the bathroom.  I think the painting is done--just some clean up left now.  Rich did most of the work.  I wanted a light purple color, but its more like a light purple-ish pink. We are going to leave it for now, and buy the purple towels and rug that I want.  We'll live with it for awhile, and maybe add one coat of a little darker paint.  I really want to get Shonna's old room (my new office/spare room!) painted soon too!  I just have to decide what color I want.
Shonna is doing well at college--making friends and finding her way around.  She's been a little sick, but is starting to feel better.  I really miss her--its been a month since I've seen her!!  This is harder than I thought!
There was a lot more I wanted to say, but my eyes are having trouble focusing--better give them a rest. :)
God is GOOD!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Taxol 2 and Herceptin 3

I had my 2nd Taxol infusion yesterday.  We were at the hospital 7 hours!  It wouldn't have been quite that long, but my onc was about 45 min. late.  We don't mind though.  He is so good with his patients, and if he's running late its because someone needed him.  I think he was with a guy newly diagnosed with lung cancer.  The new ones always have that "deer in the headlights" look.  I feel so bad for them.
The Benedryl really hit me hard yesterday.  Not long after the infusion started I started feeling woozy and alittle nauseated--sort of like motion sickness.  I got better after a while though.  My nurse, Andrea, said next time I'll only need half the dose, and she'll slow it down so I won't have that reaction again.  I think I might ask the doc if I can cut back on my steroid also.  I was up all night last night.  I took and Ambien at 11, and again at 3am.  I dozed off and on, but I don't think I ever really fell completely asleep.  Can't nap either--Brennan is coming over!  Alyssa will be here to help though.  She's coming to help me watch him tomorrow too, which is good, because the bone pain might start tomorrow and I might have to take Percocet.
My onc told me to start the Percocet at the first sign of pain, and he gave me a refill.  One thing you learn about pain--its always best to stay ahead of it!
My Hemoglobin is slowly going back up.  It was 10.2 this time.  I think the lowest it got at my last Ac treatment was 9.2.  And my platelets are fine also.  Today I will go to the hospital to get my Neulasta shot. This will keep my white blood cells from dropping too low.
I have nice, bright red cheeks, thanks to the steroids!  The nurses call it the steroid flush!  Makes my cheeks feel really warm.
I'm SOOOO thankful I have had no nausea so far!  I pray it stays that way.  I still haven't had any nausea or anxiety going to get chemo.  God completely took that away from me!  I tried to deal with it on my own, but couldn't.  I should've known better!  I need to rely on God--He has control, not me!!  A friend at church reminded me that God tells us when we go through the fire, we will not be consumed, and when we pass through the waters He will be there.  Not if, WHEN.  We will have trials and troubles, but God is there to help us through!
Well, time for me to leave to get my shot!
Love to all!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday Already?

So much for writing each day or two about side effects!  I guess that's because there is not much to report.  I had my 2nd Herceptin infusion on Monday  (Taxol and Herceptin together next Monday), and I was in and out of the Cancer Center in less than an hour.  Herceptin is a "targeted therapy", not chemo, and therefore it doesn't have many side effects.  The only thing I've noticed is a drippier nose!  I need a kleenex with me at ALL times!  Did you know that when you don't have any nose hair there is nothing to slow down the drips?  Yeah, fun.  (Sorry if tmi!)  Chemo always makes my nose drippy, but now its pretty much constant.  I've read that others have had this problem with Herceptin, that's why I know its from that and not Taxol.
The body aches I had last week have pretty much gone away.  Saturday was the last day I took percocet, Sunday I just needed ibuprofen.  I had a little back/spine pain from the Neulasta shot on Sunday, but not too bad.  That is a different pain from the Taxol. 
Last night I was finally able to sleep in bed, and didn't need an Ambien.  The previous nights I'd start out in bed and then my hips and legs would start to ache and I'd come out to the recliner to sleep.  I needed Ambien a few of those nights too.
Overall I am very pleased with this chemo.  The bone pain is manageable with the strong pain pills, and there is no nausea at all.  There was one day (last Wed.) where I was really tired all day, but otherwise I've just been a little tired, and then I take a little nap.  Yesterday I had lots of energy, and finally got some much needed stuff done around the house. Its a little odd to me to actually be feeling good while doing chemo! I didn't know it was possible!  I do think my neuropathy is a little worse though.  This may be something I just have to live with.  I'd rather live with that than cancer!
I've had such peace lately.  I still can't believe I went to my first Taxol infusion and felt no nausea or anxiety.  That is the power of prayer!  I don't know why I have to suffer through some things, but as long as God is with me, it doesn't matter.  His plans are perfect, and I don't need to understand them.  I just need to know He is there!
Brennan was here for a couple of hours this morning.  He crawls everywhere, and can pull himself up to standing.  So mobile!  He loves his grandpa--follows him around, and likes to know where he is at all times.  Brennan has a plastic hammer that he carries around with him everywhere, and he only lets it go for his bottle.  Even took a nap with it!