Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feb. 2013 Visit With Oncologist

Saw my favorite Dr. today!  Dr. J, my oncologist, had a "Fellow' with him, as usual. Dr. J points out to the Fellow all my oddities.  Gee, glad I could be of help!  :)
I brought a little list of questions today. I asked him about supplements.  He doesn't think I need to take separate D, B complex, etc.  He thinks I should just take a good women's multi-vitamin.   The subject of vitamins came up because I told him I was eating a low residue diet to try to slow down my bowels, and make things more "normal".  He was concerned I wasn't getting enough nutrition if I wasn't eating fruits and vegetables.  I have been concerned about that too.  This low residue diet has helped, but not completely changed things as I had hoped, so I think I will start adding back in fruits and veggies (not that I ate that many to begin with!  But I was trying!).  I will stay away from raw carrots (because I know they are a problem), and nuts and seeds.  I think tomato sauce might be a problem too, so I'm going to try to avoid that for awhile.
Dr. J thought it would be a good idea if I took a baby aspirin every day.  He said it helps prevent colon cancer in some people with some certain type of cells.  They don't usually test to see if a person has those cells, but he said the baby aspirin is beneficial for other things too, so I can just go ahead and take it.
I asked him about damage to my bones from all the chemo I had, and that, combined with the fact that I am in menopause (early, thanks to radiation!), is reason to have a bone density test.  So, now I have to schedule one of those.  I've never had one, but I think they are pretty easy.
Other than that, he said my labs all look great.  We talked about my fatigue again--I mentioned I planned on talking to my PCP about it, and Dr. J thought that was a good idea. He did say, again, that with all the chemo and radiation I've had my body took a pretty good hit, so he's not too surprised by my fatigue. I just want it to go away!
Dr. J always asks about my family and grandkids, and especially my adopted grandson.  And he asks about Rich. He's a great oncologist!
When I get my labs done in 3 months I won't need to see him.  I'll see him again in 6 months when I have a ct scan, mri, and labs.
My mammogram is in 2 days, but I won't update about that, unless, of course, there is a problem!
Love and blessings to all!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Update on Scans and Labs

Just wanted to do a quick update about my CT scans and lab tests I had done last Monday.  By Monday evening I already had the results!  Everything looks good!  My hemoglobin is up a little (finally--I've been taking iron pills!).  My platelets are at the low end of the range, and have been since surgery.  Before that they were much higher.  I'm going to ask my oncologist about that when I see him on Tues. I have a list of things in my head that I want to ask him--I really need to write these questions down!
I will have another little surgery on my backside on March 8th.  Not going to do any major surgery on the fistula yet.  My surgeon can't guarantee the outcome, so we will hold off as long as possible.  There is a chance it might close up on it's own, eventually.
I had to miss another day of work due to my 'digestive system'.  The barium stuff I have to drink for the CT scan really messes me up, and I spent most of the evening and into the night in the bathroom.  I wasn't able to go to work the next day either.  I think that's 5 days I've missed this school year related to my cancer treatment/side effects.  Then I missed 4 days due to illness recently too--first a stomach bug, then a cold/chest/cough thing.  I don't usually get those type of viruses, so it was weird to get them one right after another.  I've already used up the 10 days I get per school year!  I'm praying I don't miss any more this year!
It's a relief to have my scans done and over with. I was getting a little nervous this time. I couldn't shake the feeling that 'this might be it'.  On the way to the hospital to get my tests done, as I was driving, I was praying and praying. And I was asking forgiveness for the fear, because I knew I shouldn't be afraid--I should be trusting in God.  Finally, I realized where the fear was coming from and I said out loud  "Satan, you can't touch this! I am a child of the Most High King, and covered by the blood of the Lamb!  I have no cancer in me, and I will trust in God and not be afraid!".  I felt soooo much better after declaring that for the devil to hear.  He fled and I was filled with peace! I was able to be joyful the rest of the day, which I think was nice for those around me in the hospital.  That can be a very stressful place, and I made sure I smiled at everyone!
Oh-- I have to mention my infusion nurses again.  One of my regular nurses is working at a different place (I will miss her and hearing about her lovely children and family!), and the other 'regular' one wasn't there either.  The nurse I had, Carol (Carole?), is one I know though, from being there over the last 4 years, and she had a person with her that was in training.  At the end, when I was ready to go, Carol started asking me about my grandkids, and how I was doing after treatment.  I was only going to tell her a little, to not take up too much of her time, but she kept asking, so I kept talking!  That was so special to me, that she took the time to REALLY ask how I was doing.   Usually when I don't have one of my 'regular' 2 nurses, I am in and out of there pretty quick.  Everyone is very nice and says hi, but I am only there for a port flush or labs.  It just made me feel really good, that she remembered things about my family, and really cared about how I was doing.  Chemo nurses are truly angels!
Well, I see my oncologist Tuesday, and have my mammogram Thurs., then the following week I have a pre-op, and my minor surgery.  Then I think I'll be done for awhile!  *Whew*!
More updates later this week.  Hope everyone feels blessed this week, and feels the love of Jesus surrounding them! Amen!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Four Years!

February 6th was the 4 year anniversary of my tumor being found during a colonoscopy.  I was having some symptoms that my primary Dr.(pcp) and gastro Dr. both thought were irritable bowel or colitis.  Thankfully, before my pcp looked further into my symptoms, she wanted me to have a colonoscopy, and then we'd know more what we were dealing with.  We were ALL surprised when the tumor was found. The gastro doc doing the procedure saw it right away (I was given some good drugs, but was fully awake) and said "See that? That shouldn't be there".  After the exam the doc came in and told us he was sure it was cancer, although we needed to wait for the pathology report for the 'official' word. I am so grateful Rich was with me!  We just held each other when the Dr. left.  Then he came back, and told me he had set up a CT scan for me that afternoon.  Things moved really fast!  I remember the nurse giving me a hug when she walked us out and telling me I was going to be ok.  That was so sweet, and yet scared me because I didn't really realize the gravity of the situation yet.  Thanks to my 'happy drugs', I wasn't too upset yet--I told Rich in the truck after to stop looking so gloomy!  Poor guy, he just found out his wife had cancer!  I'm sure he was overwhelmed! (I don't think I'll ever know how hard all of this was on him, as he did a good job of keeping it from me.  He was an EXCELLENT caregiver, and I'll always be grateful for that!)
Like I said, things moved quickly.  My CT scan didn't show any other areas of cancer (except a possible lymph node).  My gastro doc also contacted a surgeon, and an appt. to see him was scheduled, then my pre-op, then the surgery on Feb. 20th, just 2 weeks later.  During surgery, 18" of my colon was removed and I was able to be reconnected.  I came close to needing a colostomy, but am thankful I didn't!  It was a tough surgery, and I was in the hospital 8 days.  2 of 20 lymph nodes had cancer, and I was stage 3b.
My wonderful oncologist told me this type of cancer could be CURED.  Because of my young age (44),  I was given everything they could possibly throw at me!  None of my chemos were reduced, even with bad side effects.  Once he even let me get chemo when my counts were really low--the nurse had to go ask him if the orders were correct!  But he knew my counts always bounced back quickly when I had a neupogen shot, so he wasn't worried! I think it made a difference that my onc knew me well enough to know that I really wanted to complete all the treatments.  If I had said it was too hard and I wanted to back off a bit he probably would have, as I think he would have respected my wishes.  Same thing with radiation.  That was even more difficult, and I was told I didn't need to finish, but it was important to me to finish those last 3, and I did!  Although, I have to say, I never realized all the side effects I would have to live with!

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering how awful it all was, and other times I remember too well! I get frustrated dealing with painful side effects, but mostly, I am just so glad to be living life, cancer free.  I am enjoying my children and grandchildren.  My girls are such a blessing to me!  They really stepped up and did everything they could to help me get through those tough days of cancer treatment. I'm sure it was hard to watch their mom get cancer TWICE.  They are amazing young women!
Enough reminiscing...my 6 month CT scans are coming up next Monday, Feb. 18th.  I'll also get my labs done that day too.  Then the following week I see my oncologist and have a mammogram.  This coming Thurs. (the 14th) I'll see my colorectal surgeon about the fistula, and I'm thinking I'll have to have surgery on that soon. That is a side effect from surgery and radiation.  :(   
1 more year and I'll hit that 5 year mark!  I'm going to ask Dr. J about being 'cured'; if that still fits my case or not.  I don't remember if the breast cancer will ever be considered cured--maybe because I was  only stage 2b, I can be cured of that too.  I'm not sure--I hope I remember to ask! April 1st will be 3 years from the breast cancer diagnosis.
Life goes on, and God is good! :)