Thursday, October 15, 2009

Football Time in Tennessee!

Last weekend, we went to Knoxville for a visit and for the TN/GA game.  Go Vols!  Ok, as if I care so much about football, but I do get caught up in the spirit of the game.  Especially this rivalry.  Scott is a Georgia fan.  We packed up the car and left later than intended (as usual!).  This was our first trip using the portable DVD player in the back for Annabel.  It did not go so well.  We made it about 45 minutes out of town before she started barfing.  Pit stop at Target for some Febreze and snacks and then back on the road.  We had just gotten out of the mountains when she barfed AGAIN and then immediately fell asleep.  Scott cleaned her up and we kept driving, in the rain.  We couldn't even roll the windows down!  It was foul, but we laughed a lot.  It turns out that Annabel was just carsick from watching her DVD, so luckily she was just fine the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was a busy day.  I knew it wasn't a good idea to go to the football game, but I was still able to socialize, which was great.  I took Scott downtown to meet up with Shannon and Lillia and crew, so I got to visit a little at the brewery.  After I dropped him off, I met my friend Lisa and we got to spend some time together.  I was pretty worn out after that, so I went back to my dad's and crashed on the sofa for a while.  Kim picked Scott up from the game on her way home from work and we all ate pizza for dinner.  I really wanted to see my friends Paige and James, so we went to a party on Saturday night and caught up with them, FINALLY.  It has been a long time since we've seen each other, but because we have a mutual friend in our neighbor Shannon and since James and my dad work together, we just picked things right up.  It was great to see them and we also got to have brunch together on Sunday morning.  I was really happy to be able to have such a social weekend.  Really, I think that is the most socializing I've done since before Annabel was born!  She is finally old enough that we can leave her with family and she is very content.  It was a great trip, another great diversion and the drive home was nice.  The leaves are starting to change in the mountains, so it made up for the drive there.

Last week, the counselor from the Cancer Society called me to see if I'd be interested in speaking with Fox Carolina about breast cancer because they were looking for someone to interview who is currently being treated.  I agreed to do it and the news reporter called me early this week to set up a time to come over.  She was here this morning interviewing me for their breast cancer story that is airing at the end of the month.  I am nervous!  I hope I didn't look or sound like a dork.  I am sure that I did and will not enjoy watching it, but hopefully they can do some editing and make me look like slightly less of a dork.  I don't know....I have a hard time lately finishing a train of thought, so I am interested to see how it turns out.  I'll keep everyone posted about when it's going to be on.  She interviewed me outside on the front porch and they also filmed a little bit inside the house.  Scott did some good speed cleaning last night, so I hope the dirty parts don't show up and we look spiffy.  I get a goat voice when I am nervous and I told the reporter.  She said that she didn't hear it after she took my mic off.  I just hope that I help someone or was able to thank the people that help me.  That was sort of my point in doing it.  We'll see!

Another thing that I haven't mentioned here yet is that Kim got the results back from her genetic test.  Unfortunately, the results were positive for the BRCA1 gene.  She recently had her mammogram and ultrasound and also a breast biopsy; there was no cancer, which is a GREAT thing.  Because she has such an increased risk to get breast cancer, she is opting to have a prophylactic mastectomy sometime soon.  Specifically, she is looking into having the DIEP surgery.  This is where they take tummy fat and make new boobs, so she gets a free tummy tuck, too.  This surgery is relatively new I think and there are not many surgeons who do it.  She is planning to meet with a surgeon in Milwaukee and if it is a go, she will have the surgery there and recover with our family in Wisconsin.  I hate that she tested positive, but I am glad that she is taking a proactive approach.  I don't want her to ever have to have cancer, so anything she can do to prevent it is a great thing.  It is not uncommon for women in her situation to have a prophylactic mastectomy.  As a matter of fact, we are going to a luncheon in a few weeks and the speaker chose this route after helping her sister through breast cancer, so it is a similar situation.  I feel bad.  Like this is Kim's big prize for helping me through this.  She seems to be taking it really well. 

We have sort of a busy weekend planned.  We're taking Annabel to Boo in the Zoo and having dinner with Mario and Shannon.  We're also planning to go and look at some campers.  I keep looking online, but I am sure that when I see them in person, they are going to look much tinier than they do in pictures!  We hope to get a camper sometime next spring so that we can enjoy some family vacations and road trips when I am feeling better.  I've been looking at lightweight, hybrid travel trailers.  We need something that we can pull behind the Pathfinder, so we'll see where our search takes us.  I am VERY excited about it. 

I want to thank everyone again for all of the support and encouragement!  It really helps me.  I know that I have been bad lately with correspondence, but it isn't because I don't think of it.  It is sometimes hard to find a quiet moment. 

Feeling alright with one week left until my next treatment.  My throat has been hurting again and this week, I have had pain in my neck/shoulder where my port is.  I am thinking that I possibly slept on it funny this weekend, but paranoia strikes and I worry that there is something wrong with my port again.  I am generally lethargic and get worn out really easily.  I don't feel like I'm pushing myself enough to do any walking or anything, but I also just want to get through this chemo thing.  I have not been eating well lately.  I don't have a very good appetite.  I'll eat if food is in front of me, but I am not very motivated to cook or shop and have an especially hard time deciding what to eat.  I am also drinking Instant Breakfast to make sure that I get vitamins.  I tried Ensure, but it was awful.  It is not my preferred method of dieting, but I have lost some weight, which did not seem to please my doctor.  Luckily, I have clothes in the next size down and they also happen to mostly be winter clothes.  I know that the fatigue and side effects from chemo are cumulative, so the fact that I am easily tired and not feeling well shouldn't be surprising, but it is no fun.  Four more weeks until my last treatment.  The countdown is on!  It is hard to believe.  I hope I get the most bang for my buck here and have mild side effects with great tumor shrinkage.  I was really hoping that the tumor would be GONE by the end of chemo, but it was still 3cm at the last measurement.  That is good because it continues to shrink, but it is probably much to hope that it disappears completely.  In any case, whatever is left will be gone with surgery.  Both my oncologist and the counselor at the Cancer Society mentioned an Oncology Rehab program, which includes exercise and nutrition help.  Apparently, I will do this after I am finished with radiation.  I am looking forward to feeling better, for sure!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What To Do???

This is Annabel going, going, gone!  This morning, Scott's parents came up to visit.  I went on a solo mission to Target for supplies and then met Scott for lunch.  Emily wanted Annabel to spend the night, but we thought this might not be a good idea since we're going to Knoxville tomorrow and it would mean an extra 45 minutes in the car for her.  But then we changed our minds!  Annabel loves to go to Mimi's and by the time I got home for lunch, she had packed all of her toys.  There are no sad goodbyes from her!  She was ready to go when I walked in the door! 

I am not used to being by myself and I have already had alone time at Target today.  I don't even know what to do with myself, so I just plopped in the chair in front of the tv and here I sit, trying to decide what to do while the day wastes away!  I might go to a movie.  I might play with the Play Doh I got for Annabel at Target.  I might go sit on the porch and watch traffic and enjoy the weather.  But I might sit here in this chair with the windows open and take a nap.  Or not.  You would never know that I lived alone for 10 years! 

Yesterday, Annabel and I spent our first day alone together in a few weeks.  It was great and we took it easy.  She is amazing and also happens to be great company.  Her new thing is eating cereal with milk.  Kim fed her some Cheerios with milk one day and she is all over it.  She does a great job not making a mess.  I can't believe what a big girl she is already!  We sat on the back porch yesterday afternoon and had a snack and waited for Scott to come home.  She decided that she needed shoes, so she went in the house and came back with her tennis shoes.  Then she told me that I needed shoes, too.  So she went back in the house and came out with a pair of sneakers that I rarely wear.  I have no idea where she found them, but she was really proud of herself.  And that made me happy!  She is very particular about things sometimes.  She likes for things to be in (her) order and she will throw a fit over shoes.  She loves loves loves to pick out her shoes as well as ours.  She picked out her shoes and socks today.  I guess it is funky fresh to mix her tie-dye shirt and capris with striped socks and pink striped tennis shoes.  Or something.  Annabel's other true love at the moment is Max and Ruby, her favorite TV show.  She has a little dance that she does when she hears the music.  She goes nuts for it!  I got her a Max and Ruby DVD at Target today.  We have episodes on DVR, but will be nice to have a "roady" for back-up and trips!  She is still calling me Mommmmmmm.  I told Karen before she got here that Annabel uses a long "m".  She didn't know what I meant until Annabel called me from the other room.  I have no idea why I'm not Mommy, but I'll roll with it.  She calls Scott Daddy most of the time.  I guess she is done calling him Scott for now.  I miss her when she's not here!!!

Today marks only 5 more weeks of chemo hell!  My last treatment will be on November 12th if all goes as planned.  I am looking forward to this milestone, but at the same time, I am nervous about NOT having any more treatments.  At least I know now that the poisons are working hard to kill the cancer.  What will it be like when I don't have that assurance?  I am sure it will be hard, but I will be busy worrying about surgery and then recovery and then radiation......but I can't help but worry about the chemo working its magic.  These are the big guns I think and the rest of it is just sort of the icing on the cake.  But maybe I think that because I am in the thick of it?  I don't know. 

So, that is what is going on today.  It is absolutely beautiful outside!  It is hard to complain on days like today.  I just wish that fall lasted longer here in South Carolina!

Monday, October 5, 2009

6 DOWN, 2 TO GO!!!

I completed my 6th chemo last Thursday!  Only 2 more to go!!  This time around, I have been sleeping a LOT.  I would rather sleep through the bad part, so I am not complaining.  I have been lucky to have my sisters here to help.  Karen left yesterday to go back to Chicago and Kim came in to help for a few more days.  I hope to be back on my feet by Wednesday. 

Last Tuesday, I went to the doctor to have my blood count checked and it was high enough to have my port fixed on Wednesday.  Scott took half the day off and went with me to the hospital.  I admit now that the anticipation was worse than the procedure itself!  I don't want to have to do it again, though!  I was awake the whole time (I think!).  I asked for more versed at least once.  It was freezing in the room, but they covered me up with warm blankets except for my groin area (nice!).  They told me that I would feel the needle for the local anesthetic and some pulling and tugging during the procedure and that is about it.  It was uncomfortable, but I don't think it took very long.  I could see the catheter and my chest up on the monitors.  They just snaked it up there and grabbed the end and put it right where it belonged.  I don't have any stitches or glue or anything.  The wound is tiny.  After the procedure, I was in "recovery" for a while.  I ate some lunch and then they sent me on my way.  We even got home earlier than expected. 

When I went to have my treatment on Thursday, they were able to get blood from my port very easily.  That was a first and it is a great relief that it is working properly.  When I saw my oncologist, she reassured me that we shouldn't have any more problems with my last two treatments.  She measured my tumor at 3cm.  I was disappointed because I had hoped that it would be smaller, but she told me that her measurements are rudimentary (she measures with her hands for the purpose of the study) and that there is likely tissue surrounding that is not part of the tumor.  She told me that I am doing fantastic, which is really good to hear!  She also reminded me that my treatment is very aggressive.  I am glad that the tumor is shrinking, but I really hope that when they operate, they find nothing there.  Kim says she envisions a pile of ashes.  Ha, ha.  I am with her.  I am done with this crap and I want that thing annihilated.  Anyway, it was good to have my doctor's reassurance.  The treatment itself was not too bad.  Karen was with me and Scott came for a visit on his lunch break.  My regular chemo nurse was out taking a class, but she left me in good hands.  It is a long day.  When we got home, I ate some lunch and went to bed.  I have pretty much been sleeping since then.  I can't seem to keep my eyes open.  I do usually sleep a lot after a treatment, but never this much.  I am glad for it, though. 

My plan for this week is just to take it easy.  We are planning to go to Knoxville again next weekend for the TN/GA game.  I am not planning to go to the game, but I hope to be able to get down to campus to tailgate for a bit if I'm feeling ok.

Less than 6 weeks left of chemo!  My last treatment should be on November 12th.  They will schedule my surgery 4 to 6 weeks after that, which will fall right near Annabel's 2nd birthday.  It is going to be a rough holiday season this year with recovery, but I will just be that much closer to being cancer-free. 

Annabel has been a busy girl!  She is talking more and more every day and loves being around people.  I have gotten extra kisses today for some mysterious reason.  Not that I'm asking questions!  I'll take every one I can get!