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The End!

Today, I am no longer a patient. Today, I became a survivor!! As quietly as it all began, it ended that way too. I arrived for my 10:45 appointment just after 10:15 a.m. I chatted ever so briefly with Momma Liz before the nursing staff came and got me around 10:30. By 10:40, I was walking out of the Oncology Radiology Department at Liberty Hospital with my mask in hand.

I have not exactly decided what to do with the mask. I am still taking suggestions. So far I have heard the following:
1. Turn it into art and put it on the wall.
2. Turn it into a bird feeder
3. Some sort of Halloween decoration.
4. A plant container.
5. Strain Spaghetti with it. (although we had to reconsider this one, because hot water will melt the plastic)
6. Hang it from the ceiling so it looks like a face is coming down at ya!

If you have other suggestions, by all means, send them to me. I would love to hear what you think!

I elected to spend my afternoon after treatment doing something I love to do. I went to s…

The End is Near

I resumed treatments the Monday after Christmas. Let me update you:

1.) I was able to eat some solid foods over the holiday. No ham or turkey. Mostly soft side dishes but it was still solid food that was not a shake.
2.) I am still eating a lot of soup, it is just easier.
3.) On Monday, my throat stopped hurting. Since then it has gotten stronger every day.

As I have said before, I have to see the doctor every Monday. This week we had a visiting doctor and boy did she examine me! She poked really hard on my lymph-nodes and concluded that she did not feel a single one of them. YEAH ME!! She also told me that anything higher than 2000 units of radiation is known to do permanent damage to the saliva glands. I am receiving over 3000 units.

The right side of my mouth continues to be super sore. But, I will say, it has also improved every day this week. I can only guess that the boost is not hitting it and it has started to heal.

I am sunburned. The first sign always that I have had too muc…

I AM Blessed

An old high school classmate of mine posted on my Facebook this morning, "we are blessed." Since she posted that I have been sitting here thinking how truly blessed I am. A very good friend of mine would scoff at the idea that a person with Cancer is blessed or lucky, but I am going to have to disagree with her on this one.

I have spent more than half of this year being sick. I have done things to my body that under normal circumstances I would never do. I have had more reactions to the treatments than I ever would have guessed. I have increased the scars on my body 400%. And yet, I can still sit here and type to you all that I am Blessed.

I am blessed to have a job. I am blessed that the job provides me with health insurance. I am blessed that the health insurance allowed me access to reputable Doctors and Nurses who cared for me. I am blessed that I got all of my doses of chemotherapy when this country is in a prescription drug shortage. I am blessed that I have a home tha…

Another Milestone: DONE

I finished the 12 radiation session on the entire neck yesterday. It could not have come at a better time. I am tired of drinking my meals. Did Oprah really lose all that weight drinking shakes? Of course she did. I am just not sure how she could do it day in/day out for months!  My mouth has so many sores inside it that I could scream (well if my throat did not hurt so badly)! The Doctor says the boost sessions, those to just my right side, will provide relief to my throat. He also explained that he is coming up higher on the right side of my throat than the left, hence the sores on my right jaw line. He has given me two days off treatment this week. The office is closed Friday for Christmas Eve and he has suspended my treatment on Thursday also. This will allow my throat and mouth a four day weekend to heal.

For those keeping track, I will finish radiation next Thursday, December 30, 2010.
The Doctor has prescribed me a mouthwash commonly called Magic Mouthwash. The theory...it is str…

Day 11 of Radiation

It is so hard to believe Christmas is only five days away!  I will have both of my kids at home with me on Christmas morning and I am so excited! I also have family coming in from out of town to celebrate the holiday. My only hope right now, is that I will be able to eat this Christmas.

I am down to only being able to drink. I have sustained myself on shakes. Sometimes those are protein shakes but other times, I will confess, to living off of Eggnog milkshakes from McDonald's.

I meet with the doctor today after my treatment. I was down two pounds from last week. My throat is sore! My jaw and gums are also sore! These are side effects the Doctor expected and warned me about. My only concern is that the side effects are permanent and he assured me today that they are not. He believes within two weeks of ending treatment I will feel better.

The Doctor gave me some "magic mouthwash" that will numb my throat so hopefully I can eat. He told me to take it within a half-hour of …

Soft Foods Only...Please

The throat is super sore now. It is a different pain than when I have a sore throat due to strep. The sides of my throat are not sore, instead I have a "lump" in the middle of my throat, where if I were a man, would be an Adams apple.

When I swallow solid food, it feels like the food gets stuck against the sore spot. I have experimented with different foods. Meats are out right now. Soft foods are somewhat doable. Protein shakes work. I do not believe I have come close to consuming 1000 calories today.

I am hungry. More than just being hungry...I am craving food.

The doctor said my throat would heal when they stop radiating the entire throat and move to just treating my right side. I am off for the weekend, so I am hoping it heals a bit over the weekend. Then I honestly have 2 days left on the entire neck.

While I will appreciate this all being over before 2011, it kinda sticks to be going through this at Christmas time. The Taylor family is having a Christmas gathering tomo…

Radiation and Macrobiotics

Today is Day 8 of radiation. So far, I have had few side effects. Food still taste like food and I am enjoying eating. The Doctor said since my taste has lasted this long, I might not lose it. That was the second best news he has given me.

I have noticed my neck becoming more red. It does not hurt like a sunburn but I would say the radiation burn has started. I am tired, still. I nap almost everyday.  And, today, like a light switch, my throat started hurting. I noticed it as I ate lunch. It felt like I had swallowed too large of a bite of food without chewing. But then I noticed every swallow was like that.

I realize this road is nearing stage 2 completion but I keep having this nagging thought; how in the world can I prevent this from happening to me again? This question has lead me to studying macrobiotics. One of the books I have started reading poses this question to the readers, "how free are you within your own body?".

This one question has summed up how I have been…

Early Menopause

I will say in advance....sorry male readers. Probably not a topic you appreciate or want to read about. But if I am going to document this Cancer experience I would be amiss in talking about the early menopause the chemo has created.

Now, I have not been to a doctor and I am at this point diagnosing myself. But, I truly believe the chemo has kicked me into early menopause. Among other symptoms, I am having hot flashes like nobodies business these days. I will wake up in the middle of the night sweating I am so hot. The other day, Wayne came home and found me cooking in next to nothing because I got so hot I thought I was going to self combust! Off came the clothing.

Whether this is a temporary condition and my pre-Cancer self will resurface again, I have no idea. The websites I have read say a lot depends on the age of the person with Cancer. I guess it is a good thing Wayne and I had previously decided our family was complete. I have also decided if I go though these hot flashes and…

Sadness and Joy

Friday was  a tough day. I am not the only person at my work who has been battling Cancer. Two of the others touched my heart and soul on Friday. 

One of the coworkers and I happened to bump into each other on Friday. She was handed a horrible diagnosis and originally told there was nothing anyone could do for her. But, being the fighter and believer she is, she did not take no for an answer and kept hunting till someone could and did help her. I am happy to say she had her first check up and is now in remission as well.

My other coworker sadly passed away on Friday. In her honor, I ask each of you, please talk to your doctors and follow up on any and all early screening test your doctors might recommend. I believe so many advances have been made in the cancer world, but most of them involve early detection. My prayers are going out to my lost coworker and to her family.

3 down...14 more to go

So far, as predicted by the Doctor, I have not had many side effects from the radiation. The right side of my throat, up high by my right ear, has been swollen and sore to the touch. However, that has subsided and offers me no discomfort. I am tired.

I tend to not sleep when I am stressed, so maybe that is part of the sleepiness during the day. Or, the radiation is making me sleepy. I have probably napped every day this week.

I also continue to lose weight. I am down 19 pounds from when I was diagnosed. I ate a banana for breakfast on my way to treatment today...I normally would have been starving by 11:30 but I never felt hungry. I went ahead and forced myself to eat.

The radiation machine appears to be temperamental. Today it took an extra five minutes just for it to decide to work. That is an extra five minutes in that darned mask. I have to tell you, all I need is some green paint and a forked tongue and I would just like a scaly lizard after my treatment.

Sadness....

Obviously, I did not personally know Elizabeth Edwards. I have however, gotten to know her through the media. I said extra prayers for her yesterday when news hit that she was back in the hospital. Today, I have cried at her passing.

As I watch interviews with her tonight...I admire her strength and her wisdom.

As I waited for my radiation appointment today, I chatted with woman who was sitting alone in the waiting room. She appeared to be inpatient and was waiting for someone to take her back to her room. I attempted to make small talk with her but this dear woman had just found out her Cancer has returned. All she could say, over and over, was that she thought things were going so much better, she thought she had made it through the storm.

My heart went out to her. I do not even know her name.

It is my biggest fear. Elizabeth Edwards' Cancer returned. The lady in the waiting room's Cancer returned.  Tonight, I am going to say extra prayers. Provide peace. Miracles do happen…

Zap Zap Zap

Radiation started today. I arrived there just before my scheduled time, 8:15 a.m.. The first thought I had was not about the mask I have to wear but to the size of that machine! It is incredibly huge!! Then before I can even get over that, it is off with the glasses and the head scarf and right into the mask. I am not sure if it possible, but is it tighter than it was last week? 

I think I actually expected to feel the radiation. But it is painless. I could hear the clicks of the machine. Other than that, you just focus on how much longer will that mask be on my face. It was over quickly, I would say less than 15 minutes. The future dates will be faster, they won't have to x-ray me every day.

Every Monday we meet with Dr. Cozad after the treatment. He informed me that I will have 12 units of radiation on my entire neck. Then I will have 5 additional units on just the right side of my neck. So for you math guru's that is 17 units. (I was expecting to get 20 days of radiation b…

The Scariest Moment!

Wayne and I met with Dr. Cozad today, who is my Radiologist. I start radiation on Monday, December 6, 2010. I got a little bit of bad news today, I was expecting to only do between 12-15 sessions but I found out I will have to do approximately 20. The side effects of radiation: I will have a sore throat. Mild to moderate sun burn on my chest. Food will taste badly again. Fatigue.

I then made my mask. I can hardly describe this experience.  Many of you might remember plastic canvas that was popular in the 80's as a arts and craft. The mask material was very similar to plastic canvas. It was a solid material that had tiny squares all over it. You could see/breathe through it. The edges where covered with trim and the trim had black knobs on it.

The nurse had me lay flat on a table and then she submerged this plastic canvas material in hot water. Once it was wet the canvas-like material was pliable. She immediately put it over my face, neck and chest and locked it down to the table …

Thankful

I have attempted to write a post many times since last Wednesday. However, I found myself just too emotional all holiday weekend.

I have never had a more profound sense of gratitude as I do right now.

I am thankful for a wonderful family. Cancer does not effect the patient alone, it impacts the entire family. I am thankful to have my immediate family and extended family by my side.

I am thankful to have medical insurance and quality doctors.  This process has been stressful enough, I can not imagine adding the burden of figuring out how to pay for it. I am thankful for my medical staff. I have two great doctors and wonderful nurses who have cared for me.

I am so thankful for the multitude of friends who have supported me. So many people have emailed, or texted me or even called just to let me know they are thinking of me or reading the blog. Other friends have made us meals, offered to drive me to treatments. I have so many wonderful people watching out for me and I am so thankful fo…

The Next Step

So as happy as I am about being in remission, I still have to make plans for the next step: Radiation.

I have decided to do radiation in Liberty with Dr. Cozad. I called his office today and made an appointment for next Tuesday, the 30th. I will meet with him briefly and then spend time in the simulation room. There I will make my mask.  I believe Wayne is going to go with me so he can take photos!

I will then start radiation on December 6, 2010. My insurance is changing drasticallyy on January 1, so I wanted to be finished with radiation before the end of the year. So, by starting on December 6, I should finish the week of Christmas.

Test Results are IN!

Okay, today of all days Wayne and I sat in the lobby of the Doctor's office for 55 minutes before being called back.

The Doctor started off telling us that previously my lymph nodes were about 3-4 cm large. The latest CT scan showed they were 1 1/2 cm large. He is very pleased with how much they have shrank. He said they will continue to shrink over the next several weeks because there is still chemo in my system. BUT, he believes if he PET scanned my lymph nodes right now, they would be PET negative, meaning swollen but not with Cancer. He believes right now the lymph nodes are full of "trash" (dead cancer cells) that my body will continue to "clean out" in the next several weeks/month.

He did say there is a strong likelihood that my lymph nodes may never return to their pre-Cancerous size due to scar tissue.

He also said the MUGA test showed my heart is just as strong after chemo as it was before. So, I am going to survive Cancer and have a strong heart!

I …

The Wait is ALMOST over...

Nothing too much new here. We are still waiting for test results. Doctor's appointment is at 9:00 tomorrow. I promise to post as soon as I get out of the doctors office and to a computer.

I will say....it has been a stressful week. You want to be positive and think positive thoughts but in the back of your head you are always thinking...there is a small possibility.

The other thought that has consumed my week is prevention. Self admitted I like to control aspects of my life. One of the most frustrating things to me this week is not knowing what caused me to have Cancer.  It is not like lung cancer that is directly tied to smoking.  And because I do not know what caused it, I honestly can't prevent it from ever coming back. Is it the soda I drank? Is it the food I ate? Is it the crop dusting I grew up with? or did some gene just go rouge and morphed into Cancer?

 I recognize that my obsession about prevention has to do with just how desperately I never want to go through chemot…

Test: Done

Well, the test are done. I have no results to share. The process went smoothly today. The IV went in on the first try, they took my blood, added the radioactive material and then put my blood back in my body. Then I did the MUGA test.

I am not sure why but I was awake all night last night. I just could not sleep. I finally fell asleep around 5:45 this morning but just to be woken by the short chic around 7:30. So, when I was in the hospital getting the MUGA, I took a little cat nap. I actually woke myself up snoring!

After the MUGA, I went to a different unit and completed two CT scans. One of my chest and the other of my neck. The most nerve wracking thing, the tech's who run the test. One of them came up to me afterwards and started asking questions, "Do you have a lump in your throat right now, Did you have a lump in your throat, Where were the lumps?" I found it frustrating because I just want to know, did you see something? did you not see something? But of course,…

On the Mend

Happy Monday morning everyone! I am back at work. I have not thrown up since Friday at 11:15 a.m. The only real concern I am having is bone pain as a result of those darn Neupogen shots.

So, I made a decision. I am not going to get my shot today. I figure if the pain meds have stopped working on my body then I should be finished with the shot. I laid in bed for the past two full days with intense bone pain and I am just not going to do it any more.

Tomorrow is a big day for us. I repeat the MUGA  and CT with contrast scan. The MUGA will tell the doctors if my heart was damaged by the chemo. That is a very real possibility so please keep saying prayers.  The CT scan will look at my neck and see how the cancer looks today vs. how it looked the first of July.

I have spent some time with my calendar today and just really freaked out that next week is Thanksgiving! We have not made any plans for the holiday at all. Time sure does seem to get by me more easily now.

Have a great day and I w…

Very Sick!

Let me start by saying that Purple Gatorade is easier to throw up than Orange Gatorade.

I have been sick for three days straight. I have thrown up so many times that I have lost count. Yesterday when I went to get my Neupogen shot, they doctors office kept me, gave me an IV and pumped fluids and anti-nausea medication into my body. It worked for maybe 3 hours. Then the vomiting returned.

I went back this morning and did another round of fluids and anti-nausea medication. This time they used a different drug and I am happy to say at the time of writing this post, I have not been sick since 11:15 this morning. I am hopeful that it is over.

I am thankful for my husband. He has taken very good care of me in the past three days. I am also thankful to my Mom, she packed up and drove here quickly to help out and is still here. I am also thankful for Meeghan, she has given me good advice and things to watch for.  I also know many of you have been saying prayers for me, and I am thankful fo…

Graduation Day

Today has been interesting. I went to work, facilitating a training. I managed to make it through the entire training before getting sick. I have forced myself to eat today just so I can have something in my stomach. The new Zofran is not working so well at keeping the nausea away. Can I tell you all a secret...just seeing the color red makes me sick.

Wayne met me at my doctors office today for the discharge from my pump. I said goodbye to my "ipod" with as much joy as I could muster today!

The cultures they took on Monday are still growing and the second preliminary report is that I have two bad germs growing right now. So, the doctor has decided to put me on a second antibiotic. So now I am on 1000 mg of Cipro as well as 2000 mg of Keflex a day. The other great news, they pulled my PICC line today. I no longer have two dangling lines from my arm! I can shower without regard to getting them wet!! I can finally scrap off all the tape marks that have been on my arms for mont…

A Suprising End....

Good Afternoon blog readers!  Who thought the end of chemo would go out quietly? Well, you were wrong!

Mom and I made it to the doctors office by 8:00 for lab work. Then we met with the Doctor at 8:15 a.m. He says this is my last session of chemo. He also confirmed the little sores I have on my fingers, hands, arms and back are a side effect of chemotherapy. He ordered two follow-up test. The first is the MUGA, which will see if my heart has been damaged by one of the chemotherapy drugs. The second test is at CT-Scan. He said we would redo the PET scan after radiation but we would do a CT right now. If those two things are clear...then he will discharge me to the radiology.

After the Doctor's visit, we headed into the treatment room.  The first thing the nurses do in the treatment room is flush my PICC line with saline to make sure it is working. Then they start me off on the mix of steroids and anti-naseau medications. Well somewhere after the flush and during the first medicatio…

The end is here

Tomorrow is my last scheduled chemo session. We meet with the Doctor at 8:15 a.m. I would imagine we will get final instructions on the next steps.

Today is a day of preparation. Food needs to be purchased and prepared. Laundry needs to be done. House cleaned. My energy level is low. Not because I feel badly but because I know what awaits me and I am full of dread.

My random thought for today....you know how people who use meth get those sores all over them? Well, I have developed sores all over too. Several on my fingers, hands, even my back. I wonder if that is some weird side effect of chemo?

I just keep reminding myself that a year from now...this will be a distant memory.

Wednesday November 3, 2010

Why is it my non-chemo weeks fly by?  Then the chemo week creeps by so slowly.  I should be happy that Monday is my last scheduled treatment but I am full of dread.

The new pain meds continue to work well. Today I took them as prescribed. I have been sleepy but not to the point where I was unproductive. I worked a full day today. I facilitated a Medical Aspects training. It was good to see work people and to be in a training. I really miss my job! Hear me say this: I am so looking forward to having my life back!

I want to give a thank you to my coworkers in my office as well as the Southern Training Unit. They provided me with a gift card for food. Very thoughtful and I so appreciate it.

Exhausted!

I did not post yesterday. Mainly because I was asleep. When I went to the doctors yesterday to get my Neupogen shot, I told the staff about how much pain I had been in since Friday. They talked to the Doctor and he gave me a prescription for a new pain pill.

The new pain pill worked like it was suppose to. It took away all of my pain. But it left me feeling loopy! I was at work and literally had to ask my boss if I was making coherent sentences! As soon as I finished dinner last night, I went upstairs, got into bed, and fell asleep! I can not tell you when the last time I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. Maybe never!

I did  not take the medicine today and felt no pain until this evening.  Jacob had a vocal concert tonight and it took a lot for me to go out to the high school and sit through the concert.

Overall, the theme for me right now, is that I am tired.  Whether that is just little to no energy or medication induced. I am very tired right now.

Happy Halloween

I had big plans for this festive weekend. None of those plans came about. I had wanted to make those cute little cake-pops for a Halloween party yesterday. I had wanted to drive The Short Chic over to her friend Miss Thing's home to say Happy Halloween. But instead, I am supporting the couch.

Tylenol is no longer helping ease the pain of the Neupogen shots. My knees have ached for two days straight. Other bones have ached this weekend; my arms, my fingers, and my chins. I have tried Tylenol, Advil, and even Vicodin.

Nothing is cutting the pain.

Tonight is my little girls second time to go trick-or-treating. I do not believe I will be able to walk door to door with her.

Indigestion and Other Thoughts

I have only had indigestion twice in my life. Once when I was pregnant with The Boy. And again when I was pregnant with The Short Chic. But boy do I have it now!! I am not sure if it is a side effect of the chemo or of the latest anti-nausea medication they have me on. But I just feel a burning in my throat at all times. I am miserable.

To make matters worse, food just taste terrible right now. I have given up drinking my life long friend, Diet Coke. It has been months and honestly I have no desire to even drink it. So, I drink a lot of water. Today, The Boy was out of school and we celebrated with a Mommy/Son lunch at our favorite Japanese Steakhouse. The food there tasted good. I ate a great meal but the water tasted like pure metal. It is a taste that has stuck with me all day long. Metal. Metal. Metal.

Wayne and I went out for dinner tonight and I was so excited to have my favorite puffy taco from Margaretta's. The taco tasted okay but the Margaretta I ordered with it tasted h…

Highs and Lows of Wednesday and Thursday

As always, getting disconnected from that pump is a high. I can not even describe the feeling of watching the poison slowly entering your body for two entire days. The near sight of it makes me sick.

I slept a lot Wednesday. I guess that is a high.

My good girlfriends, Jen and Megs, brought dinner over Wednesday evening. They also gave me the most beautiful quilt made by Jen's mother-in-law, Amy Gronniger. As if the gift of a quilt alone was not enough to make me cry, they turned the quilt over and showed me all the hand prints on the backside of the quilt. Such a thoughtful and special treat!

For those readers who are faint at heart (or mention of bodily fluids) you may want to stop reading here!  But for the rest of you, as the title of this post says,there have been some low ones as well. Around 9:30 p.m. I started feeling a little nauseated. That feeling only continued to grow and I can say I have spent the last 15 hours vomiting nonstop.

When I went to get the Neupogen shot t…

Tuesday Update

I am posting this today for my Aunt Deloris. She likes it when I post daily. I was just very very tired today. I had a hard time waking up. I credit the Benadryl I took last night to counter the steroids. As I type this, at 10:00 p.m. I am still in my jammies! The entire day has been spent resting and napping and carrying around my chemo bag.

I get disconnected from the pump tomorrow around 1:00. Tomorrow is my normal transition day. I start the day off feeling very well and end it feeling very horrible.

This evening we have a visitor. Momma Liz is here while Daddy David is recovering from surgery.It is nice to talk and catch up and offer a haven to those who need it!

Monday Update

We had a busy weekend. Friday night I got to help my friend Meeghan.  She is presenting at a national conference and we got to go shopping to find her the most perfect outfit.

Saturday we hosted a small but fun pre-Halloween party. We were blessed to have no rain so we had a wiener roast in our drive way. The little people in our world, sure looked cute all dressed up! Funny enough, I thought the little people would be scared of the creepy Halloween decorations but to our amusement, they grabbed those fake rats and ran around all night playing with them! I will post photos soon!

Of course we had to share the party with the MU/OU football game. We ended up with both fans, who played very well together! And I will say both were gracious with there win/loss. Not to offend Melissa Paige, but it is pretty cool that MU pulled a win out!

Sunday, my mother and I baked chicken. Literally, all day long! My in-laws had a church pot luck and they were suppose to bring the main dish. So my mother…

My Unfinished Life

You know, you do not get handed a Cancer diagnosis and not spend time thinking about your mortality. I would imagine the amount of time you spend would depend upon the type of Cancer you have. Although my Cancer is considered treatable, I still have spent a great deal of sleepless nights thinking about mortality.

This is what I realized: I do not have a bucket list. I have always construed myself too young to have one. You all know what a bucket list is...the term was made popular from a recent movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. They were older men, with health concerns, who made a list of all the things they wanted to go before they died. I always thought there was time to figure out my bucket list after I had lived my life.

But, as this diagnosis has shown me, you never know what life has in store for you. So, it is time to develop my list. As I sit here and think about what I would put on my list, I can come up with a few things.

Wayne and I have joked with each other …

Everyday Things

Yesterday was my third wedding anniversary. I am blessed to be married to wonderful man! I made dinner for the family, Alice Chicken. (Wayne's favorite meal at Outback Steakhouse is Alice Springs Chicken so I made a version of it!) Last night at bedtime, The Short Chic thanked me for making the best anniversary dinner she has ever had.

At times I have felt guilty that my loved ones where getting slighted by this journey. Wayne's birthday was right after a treatment, he had had to give up fishing trips, The Boy is not playing fall sports, Mom does not always have the energy to drive him to the many places he wants to go,not having the energy at times to love on The Short Chic, and being so sick on weekends that I spend it in bed. But, we are strong and we are getting through this. The family has been by my side through the good and the bad of this. And when we can, we make a memory and celebrate the little things.

So many things get overshadowed by illness. It is important to …

A Major Blessing

I am sad to say one of the real worries I have had during this process was that of my leave balance at work. I started this process at the end of summer, after we had taken a lot of time off work for play. So my leave balance was not where I would have wanted it to be in a medical emergency.

I have watched my balance dwindle down to zero over the past few weeks. Going into unpaid leave, not only means I do not get paid, but it also means I can lose my health insurance benefits (something else you really do not want to mess with in a medical emergency).

My work has a shared leave program, that employees can request help from if needed. I applied for shared leave last month. The meeting was last week to determine if I would be approved or not. I was really on edge, being at the end of my leave balance, and not hearing from the approval committee last week.

So, today, I called them and found out I was approved!!! They have granted me up to 530 hours of leave to use for the treatments. I…

What a weekend!

When I woke up at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning I had no idea that I would find myself awake for the majority of the weekend.   When I woke early on Saturday (only having had 2 1/2 hours of sleep) to go to the doctor appointment, I figured I would get a good nap in when The Short Chic napped. However, my body was still too awake.

Saturday night, Wayne had to force me to go to sleep at 10:30 p.m. and I will say....I was still not tired. My confession to you all, prior to August 2010 I had never used Benadryl as a sleeping aid. But thanks to my little helper, I was able to fall asleep around 10:30 last night and sleep until 7:30 Sunday morning.

Today, I have napped a lot. And I am going to bed early. I feel like I have been robbed of something vital....SLEEP!!! As I sit here and type this post, I am yawning like mad.

But, just for the record, I was productive this weekend. This house has not been this clean in a really long time. I even got up enough energy today to decorate outside for Fa…

All Nighter!

Just a quick update....I should have known....should have recognized it.....but NO  I did not. The IV drugs they gave me at the Doctors yesterday where the anti-nausea medication mixed with the steroids. Which is why I felt so darned good all night last night.  Problem was....come midnight I was still awake as everyone else in my house was asleep. I was still awake at 5 a.m. this morning!! I finally got 1 1/2 hours of sleep before the alarm went off telling me it was time to head to the hospital to get my Neupogen shot. So, as I type this at 6:00 p.m. my time, I have had about 2 hours of sleep.

The good news. I have ate well today. I have also cleaned and cleaned. Windows washed, floors swept, floors mopped, laundry, dishes, bathrooms, kitchen, and organizing. I do not think there is much I have not gotten done today. I told my brother today, I felt like a tweaked out meth addict minus the paranoia. I was kidding but only slightly. I keep waiting to crash but so far, I am the energize…

Two-thirds

WOW! This week has blown me away. I hit the two-thirds finished mark when I got the chemo bag disconnected on Wednesday. I know to all of you, four under my belt and two left sounds like a walk in the park, but from where I am sitting, it still sounds like a lifetime.

The chemo effects are definitely stronger and more severe, probably why I say two sessions still sounds like a lifetime. I have been super nauseated and major digestive issues. I have lost six pounds since Monday. I credit that to the fact that I can't stand the smell of food, can't stand the taste of it, nor can I really stand to look at it.

Today I went to the doctors office to get the Neupogen shot. The nurse almost made me sick when she was flushing my lines with Heparin. So, she insisted I try some IV anti-nausea medication.  They gave me 4 oz. of some medication and it totally changed my world today. I came home, took a nap, and woke up feeling as normal as I have felt in weeks. Even now as I type, I feel g…

The Day After

Today is the day after chemo. I took some Benadryl last night around 9:15 p.m. and never saw 10:00 p.m. This is so much better than the first two doses of chemotherapy when I was up all night. The unfortunate news is that I never even made it to halftime of the Monday Night Football game. The good news, I felt well enough to be at work today.

Today at work was one of the most productive days I have had in a long time.  Maybe it was because over half of the office was out of the office or maybe today was just one of those days that I could turn the brain off from thinking about Cancer and just focused on my to-do list.  Oh how I wish I could have more days like today.

Food still taste awful. The family ordered pizza for dinner last night and I could hardly eat. I can not even describe what it taste like in words. But it is a huge deterrent to eating. When I started this journey back in August my Doctor told me he did not want me to eat fresh fruits or veggies. And you know that is the …

The Third Quarter

How fitting that the Doctor used a football analogy today during our appointment.  He basically said that during the first half of a game, the players are fresh and enthusiastic. Every bit of forward progress feeds that enthusiasm and motivates them to keep going. But by second half, the hits hurt, the players are tired, and fatigue sets in.

Well folks, I am in the third quarter. The chemo has successfully shrunk my lymph nodes (the doctor could not feel any of them today).  But the chemo is building up in my body and the side effects of chemo will be staying with me longer. I am fatigued. I am nauseated. Food no longer taste like food. (I tried to eat a Twizzler today and had to have Jacob come taste it because it had no taste to me. He declared it just fine.)
The scoreboard is in my favor but the next two quarters are going to be the hardest to get through.

Other good news from today's appointment, my blood counts are really high. Of course my white count is high, but my hemoglo…

A Busy Saturday

Wow! Yesterday was a busy day that I am sure I will pay for today.

I was at the hospital by 9:00 a.m. to get my Neupogen shot. I had a new nurse (I really liked her) who convinced me to try the shot in my belly and not my arm. She said there are way less nerve endings in the belly than the arm and she promised it would be better. I agreed as long as I did not have to see the needle going into my belly. While I was getting the shot and not looking, I was chatting with a young man who was also waiting to get a shot at the outpatient clinic.

Apparently, this young man needed a rabies shot because he and his other 20 something friends caught a possum. They played with it for about five hours before one of this young man's friends decided the possum wanted some tequila. What happened next; the young man felt sorry for the possum and tried to clean his face off and the possum was angry enough to bite him. Now, daily rabies shot for him.

Needless to say, his story was entertaining enou…

Not quite right

This week has been a tough one. Up to this point, in between treatments I have been able to bounce back to 100% and feel as good and strong as I have ever felt. Feeling strong and "normal" in  between treatments gives me motivation to head right back in there on treatment day and do it all over again.

But this past week, I never reached that 100%. At my best I peaked between 75-80%.  Maybe it is because of the cumulative effect of chemotherapy. The more doses I have done, the more poison that is in my system. Or maybe it is the effect of daily Neupogen. I have had 27 shots of Neupogen since my first dose of chemotherapy.  Or maybe it is a fall cold that is plaguing my body. I developed a cough a week ago and it persist. In fact the doctor just prescribed a Z-pac just in case the cough was turning into bronchitis. Most likely it is a combination of all three things with the end result...I am dreading Monday morning.  


Monday is dose number 4, the official end of round 2. (I k…

Life Lessons

I would like to start this post by saying I believe in a higher power. I call my higher power God, but I recognize and honor that you may have a different name for your higher power. I am probably less religious than many would like but I think I am more spiritual.

So with that said, I believe there is a purpose to our experiences.  I strongly believe God puts us through experiences to learn life lessons we are suppose to know or will need later in our lives. Faith is needed to believe this because it isn't always obvious what that lesson is or when it will be needed. We actually may never even know that we served the purpose because we never know how we will touch another persons life. Beyond faith, the only other thing needed to learn your life experiences is openness. Openness to learn something about yourself.  Obviously, some of us are a little more stubborn and refuse to be open to learning life lessons. These stubborn friends of ours end up repeating life experiences over a…

Not a Great Day

I am back on ten straight days of Neupogen. I have to go to back to North Kansas City Hospital on the weekends for the shot. Wayne, Olivia and I went to breakfast after the shot hopeful to start a great Saturday off. I love fall and all the fall festivals around town. Today was the Gladstone Gladfest and I had hoped to attend it with my daughter and her Nana. However, I barely made it home before I started getting ill. Some of the digestive health side effects of chemo are so sudden and sharp it can make your head swim. I was able to get a good nap in but when I woke up, the Tylenol had wore off and every joint in my body ached. And here is a new one, I had the chills. Massive chills that I could not recover from. My entire day has been spent in bed, sleeping, recovering, and praying.

I am not sure if all of this is chemo related, I know the pain in my joints is from the Neupogen. My throat is also swollen, so maybe I am coming down with a cold?? The other super crappy thing, every on…

Looking Good, Feeling Better, and Half Way There

I have now started and finished Round 2 of chemotherapy. With the start of this Round, I am now 3 doses into it and officially halfway done. This dose seems to going better than the other rounds. Maybe it was the sleep I got Monday night. It kinda makes sense, when you are fatigued you just do not feel well. I even felt well enough to be at the office yesterday.

The other thing I keep doing better is eating. I still do not feel like eating but I am forcing myself to eat three meals on these days after chemotherapy. Maybe this is having a positive impact because as I went to the doctor today to be disconnected from the chemo pump, I actually felt okay.

But as fast as the weather can change here in the Midwest, that is how fast I went from feeling okay to feeling horrible. By the time I made it home from the doctors office, I felt nauseated, tired, queasy, stiff, and sore. Luckily, Jacob and his friends entertained The Short Chic until Wayne could get home. Once my head hit the pillow, …

A small success

I have blogged before about how difficult the start of treatment is because of the giant dose of steroids they give me.  The steroids are one of the supportive drugs that come with chemo to help fight off some of the side effects. While they do not make me eat everything in site, they have kept me awake...ALL NIGHT!

The past two rounds I have been up all night and Wayne puts me to bed as he is walking out the door with Jacob and Olivia to go to work in the morning. Last dose I attempted to counter the steroids with Benadryl.  It made me sleepy but I still did not fall asleep. I did get a short power nap from it.

I asked the doctor today what would be an appropriate dose to counter the steroids and he said 50 mg. I was so excited with my new plan until I got home and realized that was the NORMAL dose. So after a little consultation with my special girl, I found out how much was considered to be an overdose and decided I would try 75 mg.

Maybe it helped that I was sleepy anyway, but I …

September Photos


Me, rockin' it out, at Chemo! Another look for me these days; hats. The Husband gave me this hat this past week. Also check out my new jewels! No, not medical jewels this time. I have a new necklace from Heidi Lou Designs! It is a photo of me and the kids back when I had hair.

Support Systems

One of the things I have been most grateful for on this journey is my support system. I can not imagine how difficult this would be without them. 

Support has come from the most obvious places and some of the least obvious places. My family is my rock. Less than 3 years ago, I was a single mom. I shudder when I think of how difficult this would be without my husband by my side.   The Boy and The Short Chic are right there too. I can count on The Short Chic to ask about my band-aides everyday and gives me hugs and kisses. The Boy truly does try so hard, it is easy to forget that he is only 13 and far from a grown adult.

While my family tries so hard to walk around like all is okay around me, I know this is taking its toll on them. I am so thankful to all those that have reached out to them. The Boy's teachers this year have just been wonderful.

My Mother is another one of my rocks. She comes up and goes to every treatment with me. I am sure it can not be easy for her; she has gon…

PICC Line

I almost lost the PICC line today.

Friday I had a dressing change and immediately I felt discomfort. However, the nurse and I agreed it might be because when they pulled the previous dressing off it took a little bit of my skin. So, I wore the new dressing all day Friday. By bedtime Friday, my arm was burning. I ripped off the dressing and I had serious skin irritation, (I would even say skin burns). I put a simple dressing over it and called it good for the remainder of the weekend.

Friday night I also seem to have developed a small sore throat. I am sure it is caused by shutting down the air conditioning and opening the windows. I felt stuffy and sore, so we decided it was too big of a risk, so we closed the windows and turned the air back on. I am sure Wayne and I are the only people in Kansas City not enjoying this amazing weather, but it sis just too dangerous to catch a fall cold right now.

I went in for my daily injection and showed my arm to the Nurse. She thought my arm look…

Customer Care

As you know by now, I am on a daily shot of Neupogen to help raise my white blood count. I have to take the shot even when my doctor's office is closed. They made arrangements for me to go to North Kansas City Hospital to receive my shot.

When they first started giving me this shot, I did what anyone else would do...I googled it. There were many post out there talking about how painful this shot is to get, it burns significantly. I have never experienced this because my doctors office give the shot SLOWLY! I am not kidding that it takes them approximately 10 minutes to give me the shot.

So, going some other place to get the shot has been a little anxiety raising. Will they give it the same? Will it burn? Will it be painful?

My good friend Jackie has taught me it is okay to speak up about my medical expectations, so I really thought I was doing good to have a pre-conversation with the nurse today (who was different than yesterday). Before she even started, I say to her, I understa…

Saturday

I have not posted in the past few days. I have not really had a lot to say. I am in recovery mode, trying to get over the latest round of chemotherapy. My energy is zapped. I did manage to go to work on Friday but even that just wiped me out. I napped as soon as I got home and rested for the remainder of the evening.

It is the weekend and my doctor's office is closed. But the Neupogen must go on. Wayne and The Short Chic had me at the North Kansas City Hospital by 8:30 this morning (did I tell you that every appointment is early in the morning!!) I disliked getting my shot at the hospital, it made me miss the lady at my doctor's office who normally gives it to me.

I have figured out the secret to wearing a wig is the skull cap. I did not wear the skull cap the first day and it was so hot and ITCHY!  I swore it off for the remainder of my treatment. But I tried again, with the skull cap and it is so much better! I actually wore it out in public today and guess what...not a sin…

A Third!

I had a lovely visit from my friend Shannon today. She forfeited one of her days off to spend it with me and driving me to my doctor appointment. Thank you, Shannon!! 

I was disconnected from the pump this afternoon. This marks my 1/3 of the way through the chemotherapy. The nausea started this morning. I was sitting with Jacob while he was having breakfast and one whiff of his food about made the stomach flip. So I started the anti-nausea medication today.

I feel weak. I am trying to implement a new strategy this time around. Last time I avoided eating when I did not feel good. This time I am trying to make sure I eat small amounts of food that are protein packed.  Tomorrow should be the worse day yet. I also start a 10 day injection of more Neuprogen.

How am I doing? I am hanging in there. Trying to be as tough as I can be. While at the same time, recognizing that my body is in turmoil right now and can not be pushed. As much as I hate it, I have not been at work this week. My goa…

Chemo Round 1: Dose 2 Day 2

Today, I was home. Once again the steroids have caused another sleepless night. I think I cat napped from 1:30 to 3:00 and was then awake till about 7:00 a.m. The Husband put me to bed at 7:30 when the rest of the family headed out to go about their day. I have managed to sleep off and on all day. Thankfully!  I find the steroids frustrating. I felt good enough to be working today but I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep.

I am still attached to the pump, getting my two day dose of the A drug. I will say the new PICC line is much easier to maneuver than the old Groshong. This pump should finish about 12:30 tomorrow and then I will get a dressing change and be finished with it for another week and half.

My good friend Jen just called. She has been a saint! She stopped by last week with dinner for the family and her little boy got out of the truck to say hi. He saw the new PICC line and apparently told his Momma when they left my house that he no longer wanted to eat peas. He told…

Posting Comments

Several people have contacted me and said they are having a difficult time posting comments. I have changed the settings to allow anyone to post comments, even Anonymously.
The most important thing to remember, after you type out your comment, you will notice a drop down box that says COMMENT AS: if you hit the drop down box you have options. For those with a gmail account, it is easy; sign in with your gmail user name/password. If you do not have a gmail account select the Anonymous choice. What you need to know about this option, I will not know who is commenting unless you sign your name to the post.

I have a filter on the comments, you will not see your comment immediately post to the blog. Because I am accepting Anonymous comments, I screen all the comments before they post. If this is not working, someone please let me know.

Hair Loss

My Hair Loss started this past week, maybe six days after I started chemo. I thought it would take longer.


 While I hate this before photo, I went ahead and posted it. You can see how thin my hair was becoming by looking at my part. 
Each day more and more hair fell out. A handful here and there really adds up. I can also say I had not anticipated that losing my hair would hurt. But it did. A lot. The best way I can describe it is to remember when you were a kid and your mom did your hair. And it was the tightest ponytail ever. Remember how you wore that ponytail all day long and when you got home and took it out, your head tingled at the release of the pressure? Well, that is how the scalp feels all the time when your hair is dying. 
I would just rub and rub my scalp. And while I was rubbing it would feel better. But the moment I stopped it hurt again. 
It is a very powerless feeling to lose your hair. To know that it is dying and falling out faster than you imagined. I decided to t…