Monday, February 21, 2011

CT and MUGA Today

I had my 6 month CT scan and my 6 week MUGA scan today.  The MUGA was first--at 10 am.(Rich drove me in the truck because the roads were bad from over a foot of snow! He's my hero!)  The nurse accessed my port, then withdrew some blood.  They have to call for an RN to do the port--the tech can draw blood from veins, but not the port.  They mix the blood with a tracer (nuclear stuff), let it set for 20 minutes to combine, then put it back in me.  For the scan I lay on a flat, narrow table and a machine moves over me and stays in one place for 10 minutes, then it moves closer and stays there for another 10 minutes, then it's done!  Very easy!  Well, unless you have a painful shoulder, like I do!  My left shoulder has been bothering me since my mastectomy.  It is getting worse.  For the first of the 2 scans I had to have my left arm above my head for the whole 10 min.  It hurt so bad.  I'm glad the tech left, because if he had been in there I would have told him to stop the scan.  I could hardly stand it--my whole body was screaming out for me to move my arm.   I was praying and praying and thankfully the time did seem to go faster.  The 2nd 10 min. scan I was able to keep my arms down--and that scan seemed to take forever.  But I didn't mind--I was happy to just rest there after the pain I had just endured! 
When that was done I went back to the imaging waiting room for the CT scan.  I had to drink 4 cups of that awful berry flavored chalk.  I remember thinking this stuff wasn't so bad (I've heard of people throwing up from it!), but this time it made me gag.  The other flavor was banana, but I hate banana flavored stuff.  After an hour of drinking that it was time for the scan.  The scan itself is very quick; I think I was only gone for 15 minutes. At the end of the scan they inject me with some "contrast".  The contrast is different somehow from the stuff you have to drink, and helps them see different things on the scan. I have what's called a power port, or smart port, so the contrast can go right in through the port. If you don't have one of these, then they put it in through an IV.  Another reason I love my port! Anyway, sometimes at the end of the scan I get this intense nausea that only lasts about 5 minutes, but feels awful!  I told the tech that so she could run the contrast in slower.  That seems to help, as I did not get the nausea this time.
After my tests were done, Rich and I went to eat at a Chinese buffet.  I was very hungry, but my stomach was starting to gurgle, and I wanted to get home, so we didn't stay too long.  I forgot how that stuff affects my guts.  Let's just say there has been much gurgling and frequent bathroom trips!  Right now I just feel sort of wiped out, have a headache, and my stomach still doesn't feel to great.  If it doesn't get better before bed I may just sleep in the recliner.  That is my favorite place to be when my stomach bothers me (which happens quite a bit since my colon resection!).  It also helps Rich sleep--he gets up so early, and doesn't sleep well the way it is, and I don't want to be bothering him all night.
So, about 3 hours after the ct was done, I got a call from my oncologist's nurse, Carol. She said Dr. J has seen the scan results and wanted me to know everything looked clear!  So, good news!!  I still have that mammo and mri to get through in April, then I will be really excited!
I really had no "scanxiety" this time.  I kept waiting for it, assuming it would hit, but it never did.  I am so thankful to God for giving me peace!  He took away my fears, and took away the nausea that I used to get everytime I was on my way to Regions Hospital.  Yes, He allowed me to go through 2 cancer diagnoses, but He has been right by my side through it all.  I have learned so much about my Lord, and that's what really matters.  As I like to say---it's not about me, it's all about GOD!
I'll check back in a few days, after meeting with my wonderful Dr. Jahagirdar!
Please say a prayer for my cousin Jim, as he lost his wife unexpectedly this weekend--very sad!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


As most of you know, my daughter Rachel is in the process of adopting a 3 (almost 4!) year old boy from an Eastern Europe country.  She is adopting through an organization called Reece's Rainbow.  Most of the kids on their website have Down Syndrome, as does the little boy she is adopting.  Rachel's papers (dossier) have been submitted in the country, so now she waits to find out that they were approved and what date she needs to be over there.  Hopefully she and hubby will be traveling in 5-7 weeks!  Well, my point in all of this is to tell you about the blog Rachel has started to advocate for orphans.  She tells about many of them that desperately need families (and lets us know when they get their family!), and she lists many ways people can help.  Many of us feel we aren't called to adopt, but there are so many other ways to help.  Sharing her blog, giving financially to the kids (You can pick which one you want to help and donate directly to that child's fund!), and buying supplies for the orphanage are just a few ways you can help.  These children are the "least of these" that Jesus talks about.  They need our help.  Ignoring them isn't an option.  Please visit her blog, and if nothing else, pray for the children.  Click HERE.  Thank you!! 
Now for a little update about me.  I've had some tests lately, and so far, so good!  I had an ultrasound to see what my ovaries are doing (I've had cysts in the past and we also wanted to see if things look menopausal), and some blood tests.  The u/s showed that I still have a cyst, which seems to always be there, and we are going to check it again in 6 weeks.  I heard the words "with your history" several times from my obgyn, and that is why we are watching things more carefully.  I also had the ca-125 test, which is for ovarian cancer.  It's only reliable if the number is high--then something is wrong.  But if the # is normal, is doesn't mean you don't have cancer. We are pretty sure, though, that I don't have ovarian cancer...but with my history....sigh.  We also did the FSH blood test which gives an idea if I am producing any estrogen.  At the moment I am not, but that could be from radiation and chemo, so my menopause may not be permanent.  There is no way to tell.  In 6 weeks we might discuss having the ovaries removed--my obgyn seems to want that, but technically there is no reason other than something less to worry about.  I'll have to take that up with God--I'm not sure removing body parts "just in case" (when it's not even a high risk) is something He would think is a good idea.  We'll see.  I'll discuss it with my onc this week too. 
Monday I have a ct scan (I think chest, abdomen and pelvic area again), and a MUGA scan.  The CT is for the colon cancer (to look for mets) and the MUGA is to check on my heart to make sure it's still functioning well.  You may recall that my heart function decreased from the Herceptin, but the bp med (Enalapril) increased it. I see my onc on Wed., when I will have labs done and get my next Herceptin infusion.  We'll discuss everything then.
I don't have my mammo and MRI scheduled yet, but they should be in April--then I will be declared cancer free!  Can't wait!!
I complain about being poked, prodded, and nuked, but these tests do give me a sense of security.  My onc wants me to have a ct scan every 6 months for awhile, and that's ok with me.  Most of us that have had cancer worry about what might be going on in our body when we are not being tested!
I am still enjoying my time off, but not getting nearly as much done as I wanted!  I seem to be pretty busy running here and there.  Doc and test appointments take up a lot of time.  I get frustrated sometimes with how tired I still feel.  I'm still working on making exercise a routine.  I do it only if I "have time", or "feel like it".  It needs to happen more often!!  Yeah, the dieting is not going so well either...
Oh--big news!!  I went "topless" (with out a scarf) for the first time today!  I went to the women's breakfast at church this morning and of course everyone noticed.  Everyone was real nice and said I looked great!  I knew the first time was going to be the hardest, because everyone would notice, so I just had to do it and get it over with! I felt really awkward at first. Too bad it's so darn cold! I hate the cold on my neck and ears!
Well, that's all for now!  I'll update later this week, after seeing my oncologist on Wed.
Love and blessings!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2 Year Cancerversary

Sunday, February 6th, was 2 years since I first found out I had cancer.  That was the day I had the colonoscopy and the tumor was found.  Boy, how life changes when you hear "you have cancer"!!  You can read about what I've been through by clicking on the tab "My Journey" above.
I had my 14th Herceptin infusion last Wed. (the 2nd).  This one made me more tired than usual.  I'm not sure why.  I watched Brennan that afternoon, and thankfully Rich came home a little early from work to help out!  The next day I made it to Bible Study at 9:30, but I was still really tired.  And Friday I took mom to get groceries (she came home from Craig's on Wed. eve), still very tired!  It even lasted into the weekend.  Also, my stomach was a little upset, sort of gurgly, and moments of nausea.  So, in 3 weeks, when I get my next one, I won't plan ANYTHING for the 2 or 3 days after.  Except Bible study.
This Friday I have an ultrasound (for female troubles--some of which were caused by radiation--the gift that keeps on giving!), and the Mon. before my next Herceptin I have a CT scan (to make sure the colon cancer didn't spread anywhere) and a MUGA scan (for the heart to make sure the Herceptin isn't doing anymore damage).  Sometime in April I will have a mammo and mri, and hopefully after all those tests I will be declared NED (No Evidence of Disease)!!  That will be a happy day!!
Enough about me--Alyssa and Jaren are back from their mission trip.  It was a good trip and they both enjoyed it.  Alyssa took care of kids all week while the moms were in a Bible study (they used Beth Moore's Esther study), and Jaren helped pour concrete for the foundation of a new room.  There were a few nights that they had a Marriage conference also.  Both of them gave their testimony about their relationship, and Alyssa shared a bit of her testimony at the women's study.  I am so very proud of them both! 
Jaren is currently going to school to be a cop, while working for 2 of our nearby police departments as a Community Service Officer (CSO).  He is still a member of the Nat'l Guard, and spends 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer with them.  Hopefully no more trips to Iraq or Afghanistan!  He is a busy boy!
Alyssa is still a cheerleading coach, and decided to continue doing it next year too.  She loves the job and the girls she coaches!  She finished her Assoc. degree in Bus. Management and is looking for a part time job (anyone need a great receptionist or office worker? She has great customer service skills!)
Rachel submitted all her paperwork to the country of her little boy.  We are hoping it will be submitted to the judge (or whoever) on Thurs.  Then about 2 weeks after that, if it is approved, she will be contacted with the date to go over there!  We are getting closer!  Rich and I will have Brennan here while Rachel and Ken are overseas. We need to get his room ready!
Sat. Rachel and Ken had the flu, and I had to take Rachel to the ER around 11 pm.  She was getting very dehydrated.  Also, being diabetic, that can be dangerous.  So we went in and she got a couple of bags of fluids, they ran a few blood tests, and we got to go home.  I got home a little after 3am.  Needless to say, I didn't get up for church Sunday!(I did listen to the sermon online today--very good!)  That really threw me off!  I think I was either still feeling the effects of the Herceptin, or fighting off the flu myself.  We went to Alyssa's for the Superbowl, but left before it was done because I wasn't feeling well.  Still tired yesterday, but today I feel pretty good. Sadly, the Steelers lost.
We are trying to plan little trip to see Shonna in KC. We might go this weekend.  We want to go see all the Harry Truman stuff in Independence, Mo.  Rich and I toured his home about 20 years ago.  Shonna is a history buff, like us, and would like to see it too.  Her schedule is so busy that Sundays are about the only day she can do anything.
Mom and Dee are going to Mexico soon, for a vacation.  I could go, but it's not something I want to spend money on.  I'm saving my pennies for a Duluth vacation this summer on my birthday--remember I'm going to be cancer free for this birthday and I want to celebrate because the last 2 I was too sick!
Well, another long and rambling blog entry for you all. HI to my relatives!  Hope everyone is healthy and staying warm!
Love and blessings!
ps I put some new links on the side of my blog.  One of them is "This Little Light"  (on the blog list) and it's Rachel's blog for orphan advocacy--check it out! Also, her other blog is there too-"Love is sugar free".