One Down… One to Go

Hi everyone,

Not too much to report this week. It went much more smoothly this time because I told my doctor that I was going to need to be drugged ASAP and put in a private room. He totally understood, so I was set from the beginning and didn’t have to wait to get my nausea drugs.

I DID have to wait for a tetanus shot though. WHY did I need a tetanus shot? Well, a funny thing happened the day before my last treatment. I stepped on a board with a nail sticking up. It went right through my sneaker and stuck in my foot. There was little blood spot on my sock, but it didn’t continue to bleed. It was a new board and a new nail, but I needed a tetanus shot because I couldn’t remember the last time I had one. They don’t normally keep that at the chemo center, so they had to go down the hall to the Infectious Diseases office to get me one. It was really nice of them to save me a trip.

I have ONE MORE CHEMO TREATMENT!!! I am so ready for this part to be done. It’s taking longer to recover after each one and I am literally sick and tired of the whole thing.

Seriously… Let’s get this over with.

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Two! Two! Two updates in One!

Hi everyone!
Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. It has been a crazy July. Work is insanely busy, I just got back from a week down the shore, and I badly sprained/chipped a bone in my left foot after losing my footing on the bottom basement step on July 3. Sigh… onward and upward though!

Since last I wrote, I’ve had 2 treatments.

July 9: The results from my Echo and Pulmonary Function Tests both came back fine. No damage is being done to the heart and lungs that we can see… SWEET! The PET scan also came back encouraging. The mass in my chest shrank another centimeter to around 7 and is flashing at 3.2. Flashing 4 and above is bad while 1 or 2 is where we want to be. So, we are still progressing in the cancer cell intensity department which is good news.

Treatment was uneventful, but I had to get everything ready for the shore week. I think packing and organizing took a bit out of me, so it took longer for me to get back on my feet this time around. Luckily I was down the shore with my amazing family and they picked up the slack in the baby wrangling department. I can’t say enough about how thankful I am and how lucky I am to have a family like mine.

July 23: No news for this week in terms of cancer progression. It was pretty much a go in and get treatment kind of day. Unfortunately, I got REALLY nauseous right off the bat this time, so they injected the Atavan right into my line. WHOA! It hit me right away and I fell asleep for the whole treatment. When I got home, I pretty much just ate dinner and was in bed for the night by 8. I am still feeling it today. It packed quite the punch.

That’s it for now. I hope you are all having a fun summer!

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You really do make lemonade!

This update is a little delayed, sorry! The weekend was kind of a blur.

I took my nice drugs before going to treatment this time, so it really helped with the nausea. I still needed a little boost once the treatment started, but all in all it was uneventful. However, typing about it RIGHT NOW is making me nauseous (I am a NUT CASE)! Friday I was a MESS because, on top of everything, I got a wicked sinus headache/borderline migraine. I felt better Saturday and then by Sunday I was at 80% (which is good). I have to get my PET scans and Echo and PFT tests this week to let us know how things are going. Hopefully, we’ll stay the course and get this chemo stuff wrapped up by the end of August and radiation in the Fall some time.

I’ve had so much help the past few months, and I can’t thank everyone enough. I have to give a special shout out to two amazing people who just made my spirits soar just when I started to feel a little icky from my treatment this week. My little cousin Matt, who is going into first grade, and his cousin Rylie, who is going into third grade, set up a lemonade stand so they could raise money for me to buy medicine. CAN. YOU. EVEN? Below are the notes that were attached to the money envelope and I hope they bring you the happiness they brought me.

Since I am pretty set on the medicine front, I donated their earnings to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, because this is pretty much what that organization was founded on: little kids trying to help others any way they can.

So thank you Matt and Rylie for bringing smiles to the world. You are very, VERY special.

Happy 4th everyone!

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Still Klutzy After All These Years

This week was another somewhat uneventful treatment. I had SERIOUS anticipatory nausea this time. The Nurse Practitioner I saw this week said it is a very real thing. One woman who had been in remission for 5 years ran into her oncologist at the mall and promptly puked. Basically, I need to drug up before going from now on.

I had to wait for a treatment chair for over a half hour. While waiting, I was greeted on my FB page to this little gem that seemed to perfectly encapsulate the absurdity of waiting to get chemo. It was a great pick-me-up, so thanks Bob and Mer for both posting this at JUST the right time.

http://gawker.com/man-trapped-overnight-at-vegas-airport-shoots-ridiculou-1588889578?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&utm_source=gawker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

I got seated in a private cube (YES!), but the remote control for the TV was missing (BOO!). Then someone turned it in (YES!). Apparently a patient walked out with it accidentally (chemo brain is ALSO a very real thing). It’s really hard to focus and concentrate for some reason. I have issues with this on a daily basis, but during treatments, especially with the nausea, it’s hard to finish a sentence. So instead of reading the advanced copy of the new book from my favorite writer (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: 2 AM at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino… pre-order your copy at http://www.mariehelenebertino.com/2-a-m-at-the-cats-pajamas/ TODAY!), I am only half way finished. The only downtime I have is at chemo but I can’t concentrate enough to read a book I so desperately want to finish!!! It’s annoying really. So I watch the HGTV show “Buying and Selling” or something like that with the twin brothers who are a realtor and contractor who help people get their house ready to sell while trying to find them the house they want to buy. This is about what my brain can handle. Or maybe not… they never choose the house I think they should.

So it was another boring treatment until about 5 minutes before I was finished, I created some unnecessary excitement by spilling my cup of Coke all over my chair, blanket and floor. I used the already soaking-wet blanket to sop up most of the soda on the floor. The nurses yelled at me for doing that, but whatever… the damage was done. I was washing it anyway. So I left yesterday with a soda-soaked blanket in a trashbag and a wet sticky butt.

All-in-all the usual.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!!!

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American Psycho

No real news to report this week. I had my treatment yesterday. I had to wait to get a chair but when I got seated it was in one of the private cubes… SWEET! I take little victories when I can. The treatment itself was uneventful, but I felt doubly worse than I usually do.

The nausea started ON THE DRIVE TO THE HOSPITAL. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either. I’m having some REAL issues with psychosomatic nausea. The drive there is getting to be annoying. Plus they have a big basket of cheese on wheat crackers there for people to snack on, and the mere thought of those (yes, even now as I am typing), makes me nauseated. Also, the smell of a disinfectant can set me off. I sat down yesterday in the cube and they had just washed everything down… UGH. Later on, I happened to be talking to my sister, who is an oncology nurse, and without even knowing about my issue, she mentioned something about patients complaining about psychosomatic nausea and pain! When I told her my story, she said that it happens to a lot of people. Well at least I’m not alone in my craziness! Unfortunately, the nausea hasn’t really gone away completely, so it’s been a fun day. The drugs are definitely keeping it at bay, but it’s always there just under the surface. Sigh… if a little nausea now and then is the worse that happens, I’ll be fine.

On a different note, in case you are wondering, my hair as not completely fallen out and what’s left from the shaving has actually been growing a smidge. So yay! I know a bunch of friends, either jokingly or not, said they were going to shave their heads in solidarity. I am so glad no one has done that… VERY GLAD. If you ever feel the desire to do something to show support for me or anyone else you know with cancer, I suggest doing something beneficial. While it’s lovely to want to commiserate with shiny noggins, that doesn’t really help the situation in the long run. I personally would have felt bad that another person shaved their head and it was because of me. My hope is that people, instead of SHAVING their heads, will grow out their hair and donate to Locks of Love or a similar organization. I know my one friend is already growing her hair out to do just that and many other friends have donated over the years. I think it’s the OPPOSITE of a negative that cancer causes and anything that can symbolically tell cancer to F-off is the best way to show support for me.

Another way to show support AND possibly save a life would be to get registered on the Bone Marrow Donor Registry. A bone marrow transplant can be a person’s only hope for survival and the process is so simple. It’s literally a cheek swab. I was put on the registry years ago at a drive my cousins ran because their son PJ, who had a transplant from his sister, knew many people wouldn’t find a match within their families and the Bone Marrow Donor Registry was their only hope to find one. Sadly, PJ passed last year, but they are running the drive again in his memory this Saturday, from 10 AM to 1 PM at Springfield Township High School at 1801 Paper Mill Road, Glenside, PA. If you are able to and want to get registered, they’ve made it easy for you. Here is the link for the event page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/285065501653463/

Please consider it!

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You win some. You lose some.

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since my last update. Lots of tests were taken and I passed them all (mostly) with flying colors.

The results of my pulmonary function test are in and so far so good. My lungs are pretty much the same as they were before treatment so the chemo is not having a negative affect on them as of yet. YAY! Not sure what the echocardiogram showed, but I’m confident they are fine as well since that is usually a long-term side effect anyway.

My PET scan came back VERY encouraging with one “bugaboo”, as my doctor put it (Boy, they like fun little expressions don’t they?). All the nodes have shrunk significantly or are gone, which means the chemo is working. The only one giving us any issues is the bulky one in my sternum. It was originally measured at 9 cm and has only shrunk down to 8 cm. However, it is not as “hot” anymore. This means that when the PET scan lights up the cancer cells, it’s not as bright as it was initially. Basically, what’s going on (as I understand it) is that the cancer cells are all tied up with the scar tissue cells, so the scar tissue isn’t shrinking (as they predicted), but the cancer cells within are getting weaker. Unfortunately, even though it’s working, my doctor thinks I should have 2 more months of chemo than originally planned. So that means I’ll be getting chemo until the END of summer and then getting radiation.

It’s definitely disappointing, but as long as the cancer is all gone, it’s worth it so I don’t have to do this again.

As for how I am feeling… this was a crappy weekend for me. I felt nauseated pretty much the entire time. I missed seeing visiting friends, which made me mad, but what can you do? No one said cancer was fun or fair. My mom and my sister had the kids so they had a fun weekend at least!

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Oh well, onward and upward. I’ll make up for it next weekend somehow.

Take care everyone!!!

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2b or not 2b?

Hello all!

Yesterday, I had my 4th chemo treatment (technically 2b). It was a yucky day outside and my appointment was at 1, but I had to wait for my labs again, so I didn’t get out of there until 5. HOWEVER… my doctor was very happy with my progress and I got a private cube, so it all balances out.

I thought I would give you all a mini-lesson on ports. The port is where they hook up the IV so they don’t have to access a new vein every time they want to give me medicine or take blood. It’s very convenient and it’s just a pin prick of pain when they access it.

Below is the one I have (or very close to it). You can feel it under my skin if you press on it. I had thought you might be able to see it through my skin, but you can’t, so here you go.

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The nurse sticks the needle through the center and that is where they plug me in. If you look close at the picture below, you can see the bump of the cather going into the vein in my neck and it runs down to the plug. There is a tube that is connected to the plug and it is all kept in place by the Tegaderm film. 

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So that’s me every two weeks.

At some point in the next two weeks, I have to get another round of echocardiogram and pulmonary function tests done to see if any damage has been done to my heart or lungs from the chemo. I also have to get another PET scan to see how I am responding to the chemo. I hope the results are good!

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!

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