2007 Breast Cancer 3 Day

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The End of a Good Year

As midnight quickly draws near, I have been reflective of the year that is about to slip away. I guess some would say being diagnosed with cancer would make for a bad year. I really don't feel that way. We continue to be blessed year after year. We have a beautiful home, overstocked pantry, money in the bank, Ed has a wonderful job and even though I have cancer, we have our health. By American standards we are by no means well off, but to 90% of the rest of the world we are wealthy beyond imagination. How fortunate are we to live in such a wonderful country? So many people have so much less...how can we not think this has been a good year? And how blessed are we to need to make the New Year's resolution to lose those holidays pounds? Yes blessed because we have such an abundance of food that we have weight to lose. As we sit and eat chips and dip and "ring in the new year" is makes me sad to think of those all around the world that would be happy to have just one chip much less dip. It just doesn't seem fair. Well before I get myself in to somber of a mood, I just want to say Happy New Year and may God bless you abundantly in the new year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Insomnia and Mouth Sores

Well, it is now 3:30 AM...that's right...A.M. I am experiencing my first episode of insomnia due to chemo. I've read that this is sometimes an issue with cancer patients. For all of you out there that have insomnia regularly, my sympathies are with you. I know I should be tired due to my counts being low and our day at the zoo, but I am wide awake. I feel like it is 3 in the afternoon. I've watched a movie already and read a little bit, but sleep is no where to be found. I am hoping this isn't a regular event now. I guess I could take a nausea pill since they make me sleep like a rock, but now it seems pointless since Emma will be up in just a few hours. I will hopefully catch a nap later on today.

The other side effect that is finally rearing it's ugly head is mouth sores. I don't know if you've ever had an ulcer in your mouth, but these are 10 times worse. My tongue has 3 ulcerated spots on it and I have 2 on the inside of my lower lip. My chemo pharmacist mixed me up a little something to help ease the pain, but it only lasts about 15 minutes and I can only take it every 4 hours. It is Mylanta, lidocaine, and some sort of antibiotic. Basically if I am having mouth sores that means my entire intestinal track is suffering as well. The Mylanta drink helps the mouth but also helps the ulcerated spots I may have elsewhere in my system. Needless to say, I am pretty uncomfortable. Eating hurts, talking hurts, and I think it's getting worse not better. My taste buds are shot except for bold flavors such as dill pickles, Doritos and oh, my icky Mylanta drink. The one thing on a planet I wish I couldn't taste is the most prominent. I think I will be shifting to ice cream for the next few days as the cold seems to help if only temporarily. So other than that...I'm doing just peachy. So what's going on in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yes, I'm still among the living

I am giving my apologies to my faithful readers for not updating sooner. I had lab work done on Friday before Christmas and was cleared for travel so off we went. It was such a short trip though and I never get all of the visits made to my loved ones before we leave town again. By the time we made it home Sunday I knew my blood count was down for the count. I was running a fever (which happened the last round as well). The doctor's office was closed Monday, so I had labs yesterday. My white count was .7, down from 24 on Friday. Apparently this chemo is kicking butts and taking names! I of course received my stomach shots and set up an appointment to come in today for more lab work. Yesterday was a bad cancer day. I just had a hard time coping with all the needles, feeling miserable and just not being able to live my life like I used to. Thankfully those days have been far and few between at this point. On a happier note, our friends from Iowa (Russ and Holly) arrived last night with their two little boys in tow. It was so nice to see them again. It's been a year and the kids have changed so much. Emma is having a field day!

Today I went in for labs and they accessed my port to draw blood. I've been letting them draw from my arms (yuck, but it's not a time consuming), but my veins are already going bad from the chemo and they are having to dig around to get a good one (part of my bad cancer day yesterday). Anyway, they accessed my port today and left it accessed so they don't have to poke me again tomorrow. They don't normally like to leave you accessed overnight when your count is low, but I think the poor nurses took pity on me after yesterday and made an exception. My count was up today to 1.1 so I took two more shots to the belly and went about my business.

We took the kids to the zoo today which was so much fun. I rested a lot along the way, but am feeling well. It was nice to enjoy the sun on my face and have a little piece of "normal" for a change. I know Ed worried about me all day, but I'm okay sweetheart, really. He is such a blessing to me.

I go back for more labs tomorrow, but hopefully my numbers will be up and I can be free until Monday labs. Russ and Holly are leaving on Friday so we will have a quiet weekend around the house. Next week should be my "good week" so I will spend it taking down Christmas stuff and deep cleaning. The dust bunnies are getting mean around these parts. It may be touch and go as to who comes out victorious in the end!

Good night and may God bless you!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Feeling Green

Yesterday was the worst day so far. I woke up completely nauseous! Everything I smelled, looked at and even thought about eating made me feel so sick. I called the doctor's office and told them I'd be in at 1:00 to disconnect from my chemo bag, and they told me to come on in. They gave me another IV bag of Anzemet for nausea which helped immediately. Then they sent me home with a prescription for Promethazine. I take it every 4-6 hours as needed for nausea. It has worked wonders BUT it makes me sleep like the dead. I slept from 4pm to 7pm last night, woke up for 45 minutes and then went back to bed until 8 this morning. Needless to say I feel well rested! I woke up this morning feeling much better. I took the nausea medication to be safe, but so far I'm feeling human again. I'm going to take advantage of it and finish some last minute shopping today as well as pack for our trip home tomorrow. I hope you all have a blessed day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Round 2 Complete

I just finished my second round of chemo. Well, actually I'm not finished. I still have this bag of red toxic liquid I have to carry around for the next 24 hours. I will come back to the hospital tomorrow to "disconnect". I slept through most of my treatment today. I brought a magazine and my new portable DVD player (thanks Santa Eddie), but sleep prevailed. I am already feeling a bit queasy which isn't promising for the days ahead. I have my nausea medication ready to take this evening when my current one wears off.

Dr. Q examined me today after chemo. He said that my breast feels normal. If he didn't know I had cancer he wouldn't be able to tell by touch. Yippee! Well, he didn't say yippee...I added that part. He said we will finish up this treatment and then run some tests to see exactly how much of the tumor is left. If it is still bigger than he wants we will do one more round of chemo before surgery. If it is basically gone then we will talk surgery sooner. Obviously this is great news to hear today!

Grandma and Pa are here for the week. They are keeping Emma occupied while I recover from this treatment. Emma is loving every minute of it--all the attention is on her which is just the way she likes it! We are still planning on making the trip home for Christmas this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying some Christmas cheer! Hopefully the worst of the side effects will be gone by then. I'll post more when I can.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Little Christmas Cheer

Here's a little Christmas cheer to brighten your day. I loved this cartoon when I saw it!

There are only 6 shopping days until Christmas. I hope no one has to brave the crowds and do any last minute shopping. If you still haven't found the perfect gift for me don't fret...cash is always gladly accepted at this establishment! Seriously, I hope you all have a great week leading up to Christmas and hopefully I will see many of you in just a few days!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chemo appointment changed

I thought I'd get the word out that my appointment for chemo on Monday has been changed to Tuesday instead. Apparently there were to many patients scheduled on Monday, so I was bumped to Tuesday instead. It's to bad you don't get cool compensation like when you are bumped from an airline flight. I'd love two free tickets to Hawaii just because I agreed to do chemo a day later. Ah, in a perfect world I guess. I don't mind as it will give me one more day to eat all I can before my taste buds head south for the winter again. I'll update again on Tuesday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The 12 Rules of Life

I borrowed this from the blog of a new friend, Kim. (I hope you don't mind). http://noteworthystuff.blogspot.com. It made me laugh this morning which is always a great way to start the day.

Sometimes we just need to remember the 12 Rules of Life.

1. Never give yourself a haircut after three margaritas.

2. You need only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the duct tape.

3. The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship are "I apologize" and "you are right."

4. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

5. Never pass up an opportunity to pee.

6. If he/she says that you are too good for him/her - believe them.

7. Learn to pick your battles; ask yourself, "Will this matter one year from now? How about one month? One week? One day?"

8. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm.

9. If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance!

10. Living well really is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former relationship just might mean that the other person was right about you.

11. Work is good, but it's not that important. Money is nice, but you can't take it with you.

12. And finally... Be really good to your family and/or friends. You never know when you are going to need them to empty your bedpan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Today's Scripture of Encouragement & The Hair Cut

"Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

I decided Monday night that it was time for the hair to come off. After dinner Ed and I went out on the back porch with the clippers and buzzed it all off. I have just a little layer of fuzz left and it is falling out quickly. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. We both cried as we watched so much hair fall to the ground. Emma on the other hand thought it was funny. When it was done she rubbed the top of my fuzzy head and said, "Elliott hair". For those of you that aren't familiar, Elliott is one of her older brothers. He keeps his hair cut this way and she rubs his head often, so it was nice that she had a point of reference. Here are the before and after pictures. Drum roll please...

The picture quality isn't great, but you get the idea. So what do you think? It's not as bad as I thought it would be. The little bit of hair I have left is falling out quickly so I am thinking I'll be completely bald by this weekend. On a happier note, the rest of my body hair is falling out as well. I shaved my legs on Monday and not one hair is growing back in! The only hair not letting go is my eyebrows. So once I'm bald I will look like two catepillars died on my face....that should be nice.

Oh before I go, I want to send out some birthday love for my brother Brian and for my sweet sister-in-law Theresa. Happy Birthday!! We love you both!

Monday, December 12, 2005

So how'd you spend your afternoon?

I'm quite sure that no one spent their afternoon engaged in the same activity as me. I sat on my back porch and pulled handfuls of hair out of my head! Well pulled isn't really the right word. I just ran my hands through my hair and it came out. I noticed this morning that my hair was everywhere. It is amazing how much hair is on the human head. I feel like I should be bald already, but you wouldn't even know it's falling out the look at me right now. My scalp is hurting due to the hairs' roots finally succumbing to the chemo. I am now trying to decide if I should go ahead and shave it off or give it another day or two. I can only imagine the mess that will occur if I wait much longer. I'm nervous about buzzing it off, but Ed will be doing that for me. That is probably not something that he thought he would ever be doing--shaving his wife's head. I will post some pictures when the task is completed. I did shed a few tears this afternoon while watching my hair blow away in the breeze from my fingertips. I wasn't sad about my hair loss (well maybe a little). It was a defining moment that brought me back into my body and made me realize this is my life. I seem to be functioning almost third person most of the time. It's like all of this is happening to someone else, but today as my hair drifted away it reminded me that I have cancer and this is for real. It was a very sobering moment. Even as I cried, my dear sweet Emma came over singing Jingle Bells oblivious to all of life's troubles. You just can't be sad with a two year old saying, "Sing Momma...Sing...Jingle Bells...Jingle Bells."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's the little things in life...

I went back in for more labs today and was pleased to hear that my white count is now up to 5. That is in the range of a normal, healthy person again. My red count and platelets are still a little low, but they are rising also due to the shots. I was so happy to hear they weren't going to poke me again today! It's the little things that I'm thankful for these days. I now get the weekend off and go back on Monday for labs. Dad is coming down this weekend and we are very excited to see him, but sad Becky can't make it. We will hopefully be able to make it up for Christmas. We will just have to take it day by day. For now, I am healthy and feeling good. It should be a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is the weekend here yet?

I went in for more labs this morning and I am now up to 1.5 for my white blood count. They stop worrying about me at 2.0. I have to go back in tomorrow for more labs to see if I've made it there yet. They gave me 2 more shots in the stomach for a total of 6 so far this week. I'll be happy to see the weekend get here so at least I can get a reprieve from these darn shots! I am feeling good today almost normal in fact. I haven't started losing my hair yet, but it's still early. I give it a little tug each morning just to see, but it's holding on for dear life at this point! I'll update again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just call me "Pin Cushion"

I went in for my weekly labs yesterday. My white blood cell count was extremely low which is normal for this phase of treatment. It should be between 5-10 and mine was .5! I took 2 more shots in the stomach to help boost my blood making marrow. I went back in this morning for more lab work to see if the shots were working. Well they are, but not fast enough so I took 2 more shots in the stomach. I go back tomorrow for more lab work. I'm starting to feel like a pin cushion! Thankfully they've been taking my blood from the port in my chest. They put some cream on to help numb the skin before they insert the needle, so that has made it bearable. It's starting to get sore from so many sticks though so I may have to break down and let them draw from my arm tomorrow. I hate giving blood for labs! You would think all of the years I've been through shots and surgeries I'd be ok with a little needle stick, but it still ranks right at the top of my list for "Most Dreaded Things". So, I will post again with more labs results tomorrow. In the mean time, I am taking Levaquin (an antibiotic) as a precaution since I have practically no immune system right now. Cold and flu season--not a great time to be without white blood cells! All of this is normal though and the shots should start boosting cell production. Talk to you all again soon!

Forever yours,
The Pin Cushion

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So how am I feeling? The million dollar question....

Well I am happy to report that I am doing well. The first few days were just yucky. I never did get sick, but I felt queasy off and on. I feel fairly normal today, but fatigue is an underlying issue always these days. I never feel like I have energy to do much. As far as side effects go, I feel pretty fortunate. The only major thing I have gone through so far concerns my mouth. Do you know how it feels when you burn your mouth on a piece of pizza? The skin starts peeling off of the burned area and you can't taste your food? Well that has happened to the entire inside of my mouth and tongue. Thankfully there hasn't been any pain involved. I have probably 5% of my sense of taste left. Most things I put in my mouth have ZERO flavor. It's very strange. (I guess now would be a good time to go on Fear Factor and eat all that nasty stuff!) The few things I can taste don't even resemble what they are supposed to taste like. I had a York Peppermint Patty yesterday and it tasted like dirt! Such disappointment! I don't know if I will regain my sense of taste before the next chemo treatment or if it is just shot until this whole process is done. I'll keep you posted. So holiday tip #1 for Fran...don't buy her yummy stuff because it with be money wasted. On second thought, Ed would probably enjoy the yummy treats on my behalf so bring 'em on!