Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Chosen One




Back so soon!

Last month I went to see a genetics counselor as recommended by my surgeon. The first meeting was a consultation to discuss my family's history of cancer. That appointment happened to be on a Monday morning following a Thursday chemo treatment (#2 in early July). Kim was here to help with Annabel and shuttle me around since I was still on drugs. So, yeah, I went to my consultation on drugs. Oops. Also, I was the very first appointment for my genetics counselor following maternity leave. I was distracted by that because I remember how hard it was for me to go back to work and leave Annabel at daycare for the first time. I had a lot of questions of my own, but I had to bite my tongue and do the genetics thing. And Bridget was great. She walked me through the whole family history as I have gathered it and then explained that she would send a letter with her findings, but that she would recommend that I go ahead with the test to see if I have a mutated gene that may have caused my cancer. We scheduled that appointment for July 21st. In the meantime, I had to do a little research to make sure that my insurance would cover the $3700 test. They do, so I went to the next appointment to give blood and sign some papers. Bridget told me at this appointment that there are 3 or 4 outcomes of the test (can't remember): either I would have the mutated gene BRCA1 or BRCA2, or I would not have a mutated gene or my test would come back saying that I had a mutated gene, just not one that is identifiable (in which case, the lab keeps the info on file in case they find a common mutation at a later time). She also explained that there was a pretty small chance that I would come up positive for BRCA1 or 2....I'm not sure whether she said 11% or 14%. My response: I would not be surprised. I wasn't supposed to get breast cancer either. We also discussed what would happen when she got the results of the test and decided that she should call me and we could talk about it over the phone. Sooooooo.....today as Karen and Annabel and I were walking out the door, Bridget called me with the results of my test. And guess what? I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. And guess why? Because of my Jewish heritage! Yes, people, I am one of the Chosen Ones and I have the gene mutation to prove it. Mazel tov! My Grandpa on my Mom's side (Schwartz) was Jewish and I knew that he was Slavic way back, but apparently that lends to my Ashkenazi Jewish background and thus my mutated gene. Ashkenazi Jews are apparently from Eastern Europe and apparently most Jews are Ashkenazi Jews. I am learning, so bear with me. My Jewish heritage has never been much more than a source of amusement for Scott. Now it is the cause of my disease. Thanks Mom!

So, what does it mean? I think it is a good thing (so far). I already have cancer, so I think it would have been really frustrating to have an inconclusive result. Now my doctors and I have more information about why and hopefully have better insight about my treatment in the short term and in the long term. I hope that it will help my other family members. If they are tested and test positive, then they are on the radar and will be able to get extra special screenings to catch anything that might come along. For example, the best way to detect breast cancer the earliest is by breast MRI and that is not standard procedure. It is expensive and from what I hear, hard to justify to insurance. Now, maybe Kim and my Mom can get breast MRIs instead of a run of the mill mammogram. It has some implications for men as well, but I really don't know much yet. I will be making another appointment to meet with Bridget to learn more. I am scheduling that for a time when Kim can be here to go with me and get the benefit of the next consultation. In the meantime, I asked Bridget to let my medical team know so that I can talk to my oncologist about it at my next treatment.

In other news, Karen's iPhone got wet a few days ago and she has been carrying her phone around in a gallon sized ziploc bag full of white rice. It is hilarious. Apparently the rice is absorbing the moisture. It's working! You learn something new every day, right? Second picture above is of me and my non-Jewish sister Karen, post diagnosis, pre chemo. (Same Dad, different Moms. I do not have a family tree prepared, but if you'd like the history, let me know and we'll schedule some time.)

My Dad came to visit one Saturday in mid-June to get Annabel a playset. We spent some time at Lowe's and picked out a really nice one. The installation guy came out and said that we would have to get the yard leveled before they would install, but the installation guy doesn't do grading. I have assed around over this for how long now? Anyway, I finally found someone to come out and level out the space for the play area. He is also going to put the playset together and it's FINALLY all in the works! It should be ready to go by Saturday. I am excited about it. Our trips to the park are fewer since cancer came along and it is so freaking HOT here. It will be nice to have this great play area right in our backyard. The first picture above is the progress so far.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday

If you had asked me before today, I would have told you that this treatment's recovery seemed easier than the last two. I had my Nuelesta shot on Friday and I think that I managed my medication better this time around also. I was feeling pretty good yesterday and went out and about, but sort of relapsed today. I have been really worn out today and feeling sorry for myself, which happens on occasion.

Karen has been a great help. She is taking good care of us and giving Annabel a lot more freedom than I usually do. This morning, they were cleaning the window blinds and frames and Annabel spent some time up on the stepstool. It made me nervous, but Karen told me to chill out; it's not much different than Gymboree. Ha, ha. She was a really good helper, though. I have been unsuccessful in attempts to get her to work with me....she is usually working against me (unfolding clothes, for example). So it was really cute to watch her working together with her Auntie. Karen is always busy and has taken on some of our dirt as her own personal challenge. She has also been taking Annabel to the park almost daily.

Back to the time that has passed...since I got my shot on Friday, I started to feel bad late afternoon/early evening. I went to bed and was down for the count on Saturday. I hardly got out of bed. I spent most of the day in bed on Sunday, too. I had planned for and expected those to be my bad days. Mostly I am just exhausted and a little nauseated. Exhausted to an extreme though. Like, I will lay in bed awake and unable to open my eyes or roll over to take some medicine. I feel like I'm lucky to be able to mostly sleep through it though. I am nervous about switching over to the other chemo medication for my last 4 treatments. But there is plenty of time to worry about that, right?

This week I have also gone to a few different activities offered to breast cancer patients through various agencies. On Monday, I went to a restorative yoga class offered to cancer patients. I was not feeling great, but was extremely lucky that Monday's class was a relaxation class. I really enjoyed it and will be going back whenever I can. Yesterday afternoon I went to the Y for a water fitness class. There were 3 other women in the class and I was the youngest by far. They have been meeting in some form or another for 7 years. It felt good to get in the water and swim around, so hopefully I'll be able to make it to more of these classes as well. I am planning to go to some group support meetings as they come around also. Some of this stuff is offered at weird times, so I will go when I have help with Annabel.

I am so proud of Annabel. She is growing and changing every day and I think that even though this cancer situation is bad, she is thriving with all of the extra attention she gets from our family and friends. She is becoming so independent and she is precocious and adventurous. She is talking up a storm and says new words every day and is very expressive, even though there are lots of times that I don't quite understand what she is telling me. She definitely makes it easier to stay busy and not let this cancer thing drag me down.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

#3 down, 5 to go!

Here I am, getting chemo! Sporting the Christensen family heirloom skiing bandana along with my airplane pillow askew and most special blanket received from Jeff for Christmas. My iTouch is on my lap; gets a lot of use, especially at chemo time.

Today was not so bad. They were able to get blood from my port this morning, but when tasked to do it again for the research nurses, the port wasn't working that way. They had to poke my arm. Oh well.

My visit to the doctor was good. She measured my tumor and says that first it was 7cm and now she is measuring 5cm. Still huge, but that is 1cm per treatment! It made me feel very hopeful. Also, still no sign of the lymph nodes that she could feel under my arm. I am happy!

We also discussed my surgery options. That will depend on the results of the genetic test that I took yesterday and the results won't be back for a few weeks, so we will be able to discuss at my next visit. There are a lot of different ways that the surgery can go and my oncologist suggested that I go ahead and meet with a plastic surgeon when we know whether I have the mutated gene. Lately I have been thinking that I'd like to have a bilateral mastectomy, but again, that will depend on what the genetic test says and how my doctors feel about it. It would be scary, but it might be better in the long run. Maybe? That is talk of the future and I've got plenty of chemo left to decide.

My doctor has also referred me to an ENT to look at my throat. Finally! I don't have an appointment yet, but I will be glad to go. I am still waking up at night and have to use magic mouthwash to keep the pain at bay.

Karen was good company today. She took great notes during my doctor's visit and sat with me all day. I think it was hard for her in parts. I am used to it all by now, for the most part and I also have the drugs to help me out, but I think it is hard to see. I am really glad that she was there and we had fun despite the situation.

We stopped at Pita House for late lunch on the way home. Seems that Annabel had a great day with her Mimi and Grandaddy. They were ready to get home to take care of their dogs and Karen loaded Annabel in her stroller to go for a walk, so I am here getting ready to take a nap with the dogs. They are already asleep! And Scott will be home soon too.

Tomorrow, the Neulesta shot. I do not look forward to that since I was in so much pain last time. Hopefully it will not be so bad this time around.

I'll keep you posted! Thank you for reading and sending all of your encouragement and support. I really appreciate it!!

Chemo Day

I have been meaning to update more often, but it is hard to find some quiet time to make it happen. I want to update about what we've been doing, but it's almost been a week and I can't remember everything!

Annabel had her first spend the night party at her Mimi and Grandaddy's house last Saturday! We missed her terribly, of course, but I know she had a great time. Scott and I went on a real date to Sassafras. We ate a delicious meal and then went to a party at Brad and Adrienne's for a bit before coming home and crashing. We did some stuff around the house on Sunday and then had lunch before we drove to Lavonia to pick Annabel up. It was so nice for us to have some time together. I don't think Annabel missed us one bit, but she was happy to see us and came running with her arms out. It was a sweet reunion.

On Monday, my friend Jeanne came to visit in the afternoon and we ate lunch at Barley's. Luckily we were outside because Annabel barfed all over me. I let her sip from my sweet tea and she might have had too much of that and pizza. Ugh! Jeanne and I cleaned up as much as we could, but there was still some on the sidewalk. The server insisted on cleaning it up after I begged him to bring me a bucket or something. As we were leaving, Jeanne asked if maybe the guy thought that I was the one who puked!? I had forgotten about the whole bandana thing, but I was horrified and amused at the same time. He was really nice. Scott says we can't go back there. Ha, ha. I guess I'm pretty easily identifiable these days with my bandanas! Anyway, Jeanne and I had a fun afternoon.

Annabel and I had a busy day on Tuesday. Scott left super early for his business trip to Detroit and I had an appointment for the genetics testing at 8. I took Annabel with me because I knew that they would only be drawing blood and doing paperwork. We were out of there a little before 9 and went to the park and then to the zoo. It was a beautiful day! The humidity was low and there was a breeze blowing. I was happy that the doctor's appointment kicked me into gear early. We also went to Gymboree on Tuesday. Annabel just loves it and I enjoy the class we've been attending. It is in the evening at 5:45, so Scott can take her if I am not feeling well or we can both go. The teacher is great and knows about my situation. Both of her parents are being treated at the cancer center, so we saw her there last time I had treatment. Mario and Shannon invited us over for dinner, so we went straight over there after Gymboree. It was a great time and great food, as always! I miss my peeps. (I have sort of been a recluse lately!) Shannon made me a mix for my iPod that I'll listen to this morning.

Yesterday, Annabel and I stayed in all day. I was trying to get the house in order since Karen was arriving last night. Didn't get too far really! Annabel likes to "help", so usually when I "clean", I have to go back through and take care of her little path of destruction. I started to have some anxiety about today's treatment. Scott got home from Detroit at around 7:30 and then I picked Karen up at 10. We had a nice visit last night before it was time to get some sleep for today.

So today is chemo #3. I am finally interested in reading more about my cancer. I went through the information about my clinical trial yesterday. I think that this is a very aggressive treatment and I am glad for that, but it is hard not to recognize that I am still only at the beginning of my cancer journey. This whole thing is going to go well into next year! If all goes as planned, then I will be finished with chemo in early November. I will get a short 4 week break before I have surgery and then however long for recovery. Then I'll start radiation and will concurrently start 10 treatments of Avastin only, every 3 weeks. That is 30 weeks! To be fair, the Avastin doesn't cause bad side effects and my hair will start growing back after the chemo is over; I guess it's just the thought of being treated for that long. But I am glad that I qualified for the study and hope that this aggressive treatment gets the cancer out forever and ever. It is just overwhelming sometimes....most especially the chemo part. Today and for my next treatment, I will have Taxotere and Avastin again. Then for treatment #5, I start on A/C. I think it is a pretty widely used chemo drug, dubbed the "red devil" because of it's color and I think also because of it's side effects. I am nervous about that because at least I know what to expect from the Taxotere.

I have also been browsing through the many books I have acquired since this whole mess started. I joined a discussion board on breastcancer.org and have been lurking so far, not posting anything, but it is comforting to read what is going on with other women with breast cancer. There are some local opportunities for exercise that I want to take advantage of....all at weird times in the middle of the day! But we are working some things out so that I can try a yoga class for cancer patients at the cancer society and also some kind of water fitness class for women with cancer at the Y. So I look forward to checking those out sometime.

Well, my sweet child is stirring and I need to get up and get ready to go and take my poison! Karen is going with me today and Scott's Mom and Dad are coming up to stay with Annabel. Scott has already gone to work and is going to meet us at the cancer center when I meet with the doctor. I am not looking forward to it, but at the same time, I will be glad to have one more treatment behind me.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Update


It has been a quiet week at the Halls punctuated by failing appliances. Annabel and I have been mostly hanging around the house. We all went to Gymboree on Tuesday evening and took a family trip to Target on Wednesday night. Last night, Scott went to a happy hour and I went to a Tastefully Simple party at my friend Ginny's house. It was my first Tastefully Simple party and I am looking forward to getting my goodies! We sampled the beer bread at the party and I am especially looking forward to making that and eating it.

On Tuesday night, I woke up at about 12:30am HOT. This is not uncommon since chemo sends you into (hopefully) temporary menopause. However, the heat was not self-generated this time. The air conditioner wasn't blowing cold air. We turned it off and used the window fan, which was surprisingly not uncomfortable. The air repair guy came on Wednesday and replaced the filter under the house. It was on the fritz again by late afternoon. We have used the same people since we've lived here and never had a problem. They sent the REAL repairman out today and he cleaned the coil to get an accurate reading on the coolant, which was low. Which apparently means that we have a leak. They will have to come back out early next week to check to see if they can repair it or if we have to get a new coil. Not good, but what can you do?

We acquired our TV in the den from Scott's parents via his brother via his wife's sister because it kept crapping out. I am still not quite sure how it ended up at our house and Scott might have been in trouble when it arrived, but we hooked it up and it worked great for about 6 months. Then it started making a high pitched buzz (only heard by me!) before it shut itself down. It did that for 3 or 4 months and then one day just stopped crapping out and started working normally again. It started again the other day. Ugh! It is just a pain in the ass. When it craps out, Scott has to do something to it and then we can turn it back on. The biggest pain in the ass about it is that when it does its thing, Scott starts talking about how we NEED a new TV. We don't; we didn't need this one when we acquired it. We just moved our awesome 32" TV in the bedroom so that it can put off a ton of heat and enable us to watch too much TV. It is too big to be in there in my opinion, but that doesn't prohibit me from enjoying it very much.

So anyway, appliances crapping out... I told Scott not to fret and definitely NOT to ask what next!! I am not a fan of asking "what next" in general, but these days you won't hear me asking what next; what we have is manageable in the tv/air conditioner department as well as in the health department. It's no picnic, but there are definitely worse things. Everything is NOT falling apart. That is what I keep telling myself anyway.

Annabel is talking a lot more these days. I can tell it is really frustrating for her when she tells me something that I don't understand, but she is also saying new words all the time. I love it! She shakes her head yes and no when I ask her questions and says "uh-oh" more than anything else. She has been playing with her dolls a lot this week. She puts blankets on them and feeds them bottles. Kim brought her some blocks and we stack those up so that she can knock them down (uh-oh!). She has been a big mess maker this week, dragging out almost every toy she has, but I think it's a good thing that she is so busy! I have noticed that she is more and more creative every day and she also plays by herself more than she used to, which is nice. I love to watch her when she thinks I'm not looking.

I am feeling good this week. My sore throat is not as sore anymore. I am still napping and relaxing when Annabel naps. Wednesday was not a great day because I was very emotional. I have a day like that every now and then when paranoia sets in and I start thinking about the bad stuff... luckily, those days are fewer than they were when I was first diagnosed. I took Annabel to the park on Thursday morning and took a decent walk to another playground. I know that I need to exercise much more than I do. It's hard because it is so hot here right now (that is my current excuse). I need to get out early, right after breakfast. Scott and I took Annabel for a walk this evening. It ended up being pretty short because there was a big, dark cloud above. We walked about a mile and made it home right when it started raining hard. It is sad, but feeling good prompts the chemo countdown. My next treatment is Thursday.

We have a big week lined up next week. Scott has a short business trip at the beginning of the week. My friend Jeanne will be visiting during the day on Monday and I have to go back to the genetic testing office to have blood drawn to be sent off on Tuesday. My sister Karen arrives on Wednesday evening and will be staying for 10 days. I am excited to have her visit and glad that she's going to stay a while!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Diversionary Tactics

We took a roadtrip to Knoxville this weekend! It is always good to go home and I had an especially fun time this weekend. We rushed to town on Friday to see Sonic Youth at the Bijou. It was a great show and I was really glad to see my friend Lisa. Seeing Sonic Youth makes me want to be a rock star. Lisa says it's not too late and even said that I could play bass and she would play drums. I'll let you know how it turns out! It is always good to have the opportunity to go on a date with my husband, so I was happy for that and glad that we could spend some time with our friends.

I was pretty wiped out on Saturday, so we took it easy at my Dad's house. We took a trip to the toy store and my Dad got Annabel a little box of kitchen gear with pots, pans, cups, plates and some plastic food. She spent all day pouring milk and juice and making sandwiches for everyone. We took a restful nap in the afternoon and then Kim and Jeff and Suz came over for dinner in the evening. The wig was passed around and Kim put on QUITE a show. WARNING WARNING!!! Do not mix wigs and wine!!! I can't remember when I laughed so hard. She had us all in tears when the wig inspired her to reenact song and scene from a popular movie from the 70s that none of the rest of us recall seeing.

video

video

It was hard to leave on Sunday afternoon. It was a very vacation-like weekend! The drive back went by fast and we had a relaxing evening at home. Kim planned to come to Greenville to spend the day today (Monday) to accompany me to a bone scan first thing this morning. She ended up leaving Knoxville for Greenville before 5am this morning to get here because when she left last night, she was delayed by a rain storm and then realized that she forgot her allergy medicine, so she turned around and went home. Scott's Mom came up this morning to be with Annabel for the day and Kim got here at about the same time. They were having technical difficulties with the machines for the bone scan and I also had to have an injection (dye) and wait 3 hours before they could do the scan. I am still not quite sure why nobody mentioned this when my appointment was scheduled. It would have been helpful for planning the day! We left and went to Whole Foods and shopped for a while and then ran some errands before going back. Luckily, I was finished in time to get to the Cancer Society for a class they offer called "Look Good, Feel Better". I am really happy that I went! They provide a huge bag of make-up and instruction on how to apply it. Kim was impressed with my mad skill (ability to follow directions). I even volunteered to be the model for some scarf tying techniques! After the make-up/turban-izing, they invited the attendees back to the wig room. I am now the proud owner of a new BLONDE wig. It will take some getting used to, but it's good to have options. Scott is not a fan. He thought I was joking when he came home. It is definitely different than my hair in both color and style.

I also spoke with one of the nurses at the Cancer Center today because I have had a really bad sore throat for a while now and it is keeping me up at night. She told me that I need to take double the amount of acid reducers and use the magic mouthwash that was prescribed when this all started. She explained that if I have reflux, it can cause my throat to hurt and also cause sinus problems and coughing. So she said that while the acid reducers are working, I should use the mouthwash to numb it until it heals. I was relieved that she told me it is a common problem. This whole cancer thing makes me really paranoid.

Today was a long day. I don't have much planned for the rest of the week and I'm looking forward to some quiet days with Annabel. Well, days with Annabel aren't usually that quiet, especially lately! She is very chatty and great entertainment. She is 19 months old today!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again


Today is really the first day that I have felt good since my last treatment. I am going to go ahead and plan about 6 days recovery for each treatment and try to stop hoping that it will get easier next time. This whole process definitely sucks, but it isn't unmanageable. One bad week, two good weeks x 8. Well, then all the stuff that will follow, like surgery and radiation..... But let's just concentrate on getting over the first big chemo hurdle first. Two good weeks and then a bad week x 6 to go. It's easy to be optimistic and positive and see the big picture when I'm feeling good, but the bad week really sucks. I am not fun to be around (sorry family!). I tried to keep a journal this time so that I can track what medicine I'm taking and how I'm feeling every day. One crappy aspect of the side effects of chemo is that I seem to experience a shitty roller coaster ride of different types of pain and discomfort throughout the bad week. Do I hope that the next 6 treatments are similar to my experience as the first 2? I guess I hope that I am learning what to expect realistically...so yes, it would be nice to be able to predict how I'll be feeling in the days after my treatment. Good thing that the drugs they give me are helpful in controlling all of the fun things that go along with chemo!
Kim was here from Saturday night until early Wednesday morning. We had a great visit despite my not feeling well! She and Annabel really enjoy each other's company and I love having my sister around. She said it was like old times when we lived together, but I think her memory is clouded. Well, unless she was throwing shoes at me when I was passed out. That would be like the old times that I remember!
I hadn't planned to need help on Wednesday, but I was still in a lot of pain on Tuesday, so Scott's Mom came up. I am so grateful to her for coming up here and taking care of us. On Wednesday afternoon, we went back to the wig shop with Audrey (my wig, that is her style name). I finally took her back to get the bangs trimmed and I am much much happier with the wig now. I wore it to Walmart after it got all shined up! I felt a lot less self conscious that I thought I would, but also, I was in Walmart. We had a nice day yesterday and I was glad to get out of the house.
So today was the first day that Annabel and I have been on our own in a week. Annabel woke up early this morning (2nd time in 2 days, please don't be a trend!). We had breakfast and the weather was pretty mild, but cloudy. We went to the park at about 9 and played on the playground for about an hour. I loaded her up in the stroller to go to the zoo, but it wasn't open yet, so we came back home. I have been relaxing or napping while Annabel naps. We had a good afternoon and then I went to bunko happy hour when Scott got home. I wore the wig! I had a great time catching up with everyone. And not worrying (too much) about the wig. When I got home, I let Annabel color on my fuzzy head with her bathtub crayons. She thought it was hilarious, which cracks me up. She is a funny, funny girl.
Scott and Annabel and I are looking forward to a visit to Knoxville this weekend. We are going to see Sonic Youth on Friday night and then spend the rest of the weekend at my Dad's visiting.
Tonight's pictures....Scott and I (with wig)......& Annabel expressing her love for tapioca pudding.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recovery




I am feeling better this time than last I think. I am taking less medication and am mostly just very tired.

We had a pretty busy, active day on Friday, the day after my treatment. Scott and I took Annabel downtown to the park and then we ate lunch at Barley's. We walked around a fair amount. Annabel and I took a nap in the afternoon and then we went to dinner at Mario and Shannon's on Friday night. We all had a good time and left there at around 9 to get Annabel in bed. I was tired and my stomach was a little sore, so I took some medicine and went to bed.

When I woke up on Saturday, I was not feeling well at all. I spent the day in bed, mostly sleeping. I haven't felt too nauseated this time, but I have been very tired. I did manage to take a shower and put Annabel to bed, but that was about it as far as activity goes. I spent most of Sunday in bed as well. Annabel joined me for a long nap. Scott was able to get some things done outside while Kim and Annabel played in the afternoon. We had dinner together last night and then Annabel decided that she was going to stay up all night. It was not a good night for it!

This morning, Kim took me (and Annabel) to the doctor to get my Nuelesta shot to boost my blood cells. I have to get that shot in the stomach, but the nurse is really nice and even though it hurts, it is not that bad (if you enjoy getting shots in the stomach). After that, I had an appointment to meet with a genetic counselor to discuss cancer in my family history. It was just an interview type appointment. They would like for me to go back in a few weeks to give blood to see whether my cancer was caused by a genetic mutation. I might have been a little doped up at my appointment. Part of my current challenge is figuring out a way to manage my side effects without turning my brain to mush. I thought I had done a good job and taken a minimal amount, but I think I was on the mushy side. Kim and Annabel waited for me in the waiting room. They had some toys for Annabel to play with and she was not in a hurry to leave when it was time to go. We decided to go to the mall after that. I guess I had a little cabin fever and Kim needed some new pants. I wasn't really feeling up to it, but neither did I want to come home and get back in bed. We had a nice time. I'm glad I made myself go. I am pretty worn out now and Kim made me take a hydrocodone. I think she is doing an experiment to see which of my prescriptions make me the most fun to be around! Ha, ha.
The pictures are from our trip to the park on Friday afternoon.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

2 down, 6 to go!

Whew! One more treatment behind me. Scott and I went to the Cancer Center this morning at 9:15 and left at about 2:45. When we got there, I was introduced to my nurse for the day and she took blood from my port to check my counts. I also got to pee in a cup. Then I saw my oncologist. She measured my tumor and says that it is not as wide as before and feels different (in a good way). She could also not locate a swollen lymph node in my armpit, which was also good news! We discussed my treatment and the medicines that I have to help with the side effects and then she sent me on my way to get chemo. Scott had to leave to go to a meeting at work. I went back to the chemo room and the nurse started a fluid drip and then some steroids. Apparently, the pharmacy didn't have one of my drugs available when it was time, so there was a little delay. The nurse told me that my chemo drugs would take about 2 hours today (once they arrived). I spent my time listening to my ipod and emailing, sitting under a blanket that Jeff got me for Christmas that is really soft and nice. I also take an airplane pillow with me. They must have given me something that made me nod off because I took a nap for a while and even woke up a few times surprised that I was still there! I should also mention that I was seated in the geriatric area today. I am not sure why, but that is where they sent me when I got there. I am sure I out-snored some old men this afternoon! Scott picked up some food from Pita House on his way back and we ate lunch while I was being treated. I had a falafel sandwich and Scott had a gyro. After the IV drips were done, the nurse had to flush out my port and I guess that took just a few more minutes.

When we left, I just felt tired and a little dizzy. We had to drop off a prescription, but when we go to our Walgreen's, they didn't have it and directed us to the next Walgreen's about 5 minutes away. Since I was on drugs and Scott was assing around with his Blackberry (while driving!), we passed right by our destination and went about 10 more minutes out of the way to the next Walgreen's, so we had to turn around and go back to the other one to pick up my prescription. I got some Marinol for nausea. That is the pill form of pot. I don't think it feels the same, but I do like that it will control my symptoms without knocking me out or making me feel incapacitated. We'll see how it does on a bad day! The doctor and the nurses remind me that if something doesn't work, to let them know immediately because there are lots of things out there to help with the side effects. It's just a matter of finding the right combo. I felt ok with what I had available last time and hope it will hold up this time as well.

When we (finally!) got home from the drugstore, I laid down for a little while and relaxed. Scott went to a show in Asheville tonight and Mimi is here with Annabel and I. After Scott left, I dozed off for about an hour and woke up in time for the end of Annabel's dinner. Emily brought me some chicken n' dumplings and heated up some for my dinner for me. Mmmmmmm! I am telling you, that makes me feel better. Her chicken n' dumplings are truly comfort food. I rocked Annabel to sleep, but she didn't stay asleep for long! She woke up again at about 9:30 and I brought her to bed with me.

So far, I feel ok. Just a little tired and my stomach is sore. They say the worst days are days 2 and 3. We are planning to take Annabel to the zoo in the morning. We did that after my last treatment, too. The weather tomorrow is forecasted to be milder than it has been in weeks, so I hope I will feel well enough to go and get a little exercise and family time before I hit the sack for recovery time.

I forgot to mention that Annabel did NOT have strep throat! The doctor called on Tuesday and said that it was viral, so she didn't even have to continue with her antibiotics. She was back to her normal self by Monday.

I want to THANK everyone so much for your well wishes and prayers!!! It makes me feel stronger to know that I have such an amazing group of people cheering me on!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chemo Eve

Again, with the hair! It is really coming out now and I have bald spots. Big ones. I was upset this morning in the shower with the volume of hair that fell out, but then I looked in the mirror and really freaked out. It is not good at this stage. I told Scott that I look like I have a disease. Duh! Anyway, it was very alarming even though I knew it was coming.

I did have a little pity party for myself. Just a little one; I didn't want to freak Annabel out, too. I needed to run some errands today, but I REALLY didn't want to leave the house after that. I finally made myself go to the grocery store at around 4. I wore a red and black bandana. I was pushing Annabel in the cart when I noticed that I picked a cart that had an Aunt Jemima ad on it. Pretty funny! I have also worn my sunglasses in the grocery store on my past two trips. I am not sure why I'm fessing up to this because I could go a long time without getting busted for it. I am prone to outburst, so my reasoning is that IF I do cry, maybe it won't be as obvious. Plus, I can stare at people to see whether they are staring at me. Nobody stared at me. But also, there was a woman in the grocery store around my age wearing pig tails, a tank top, a VERY short pleated plaid skirt and some boots. She bought some ice cream. ?????

I think the hair episode is timely since I have my next treatment tomorrow. I am mad about this whole thing now. I am almost looking forward to getting poisoned to get rid of the cancer. Almost. I am also nervous about going to the doctor, worried that it is going to hurt (even though I know from last time that it doesn't), etc. I dread feeling bad, but I am hopeful that I will bounce back more quickly from this treatment. Last time, I was also getting over the surgery that I had the day before, so I think it should be easier this time.

This afternoon I got a call from my OB/GYN. She called me personally to see how I'm doing. I thought that was nice of her. She wasn't in the office either of the two times I went in there to have my lump checked. I don't think I've ever had a doctor call me to check on me. But I guess I've never had cancer, either!

I made dinner tonight. Scott likes this one thing that I make and I rarely cook, so he requested it. It is lasagna style baked ziti. It tastes good leftover.

I am pretty crabby over the hair and the chemo and everything. I took another shower tonight and now I'm almost bald. I have to take steroids before my treatment and my stomach hurts. Waaaaaaaaaah!