Archive | February 2009

Seeing Double

n1199904864_259091_2700I had a visit with my doctor today and she said my liver enzymes are double what they were 3 weeks ago.  If they go to triple, then she said she would have to postpone my chemo treatment, but she suspects they will  go back down over the next few days.  She believes this is all due to the toxins being dumped there from chemo drugs.  She will check them again Monday as well as test for hepatitis, although she doesn’t believe I have hepatitis.  My bilirubin levels are low, but within the lowest of normal range.   She prescribed iron for my low red blood cell count which is quite low (explaining my extreme fatigue), within borderline need of a shot to boost them.  She will check that again next week also.

I am scheduled for a bone scan next Friday (two days post chemo).  It is a 4 hour test.  They inject radioactive material through a vein, then I have to wait 3 hours, return for the test/scan….my friend will come along with me.  My doctor doesn’t believe anything will come of the scan (because she is convinced the pain on my side is my liver and not bone related) , but because the radiologist recommended it she will follow through.  At least we’ll have a baseline for the future cancer follow ups.

I am feeling a bit better today as far as energy levels.  I guess I get about 5 “good” days here before returning for chemo next week.  It feels like I was just there yesterday!  I think I could drive there in my sleep now. Your prayers have encouraged me as I begin to feel lighter, less fatigued and more hopeful.

This entry was posted on February 28, 2009. 2 Comments

Too Tired to Cry

il_430xn_23158529It’s now been more than two weeks since my last chemo treatment and I am still very tired and weak, more so than with the first two cycles.  For at least 10 days I was nauseated, then my nasal membranes were totally dried up and irritated, drippy and scabbed and  my eyes felt irritated.  A urinary track infection completed the list of irritants but was quickly treated.  The fatigue isn’t something a nap could make better – in fact it’s not like an “I need to sleep” tired….it’s an “I can hardly get up” tired.  It’s a ‘lay around all day on a couch  and get nothing done’  tired.  This has just dragged on a long time now.

About a week ago I started having pain on my right rib cage.  I called my doctor and she said she would see me this week (yesterday), which she did, and after doing an exam she said she thinks the source of my pain is  my liver.  She had me go for x-rays of chest and rig cage and ordered blood work , all of which we are still waiting on the results of.  I am still waiting for a call from her.  So in the meantime I am trying to take it easy, but still have things to get done (like car repair estimates after having been rear ended on Tuesday afternoon by a loaded dump truck – thankfully while we were both at a stop light), banking, shopping, etc.  I went for a short 25 minute walk today since the sun was out and it’s 60 degrees in February ! UPDATE: I spoke with the oncologist on call late today  and she wants me to come in in the morning. The radiologist recommends a bone scan and she wants to see me since my liver functions came back elevated. More info tomorrow (I hope)!

If I allowed myself  to, I think I could have a great big cry session – but I am just not up for it – that takes too much energy.  Occasionally a tear will fall, but I try keeping myself distracted now with things I enjoy.  Favorite TV shows, magazines, chats with girlfriends and baking cookies :)(Pre-made dough, of course!)

This entry was posted on February 27, 2009. 2 Comments

The Depths

janelle-sunsetI haven’t posted in a few days.  It’s been a long week, well, actually more than a week now, since my last chemo treatment.  Today is the 9th day and I am still very weak. The doctor warned us these infusions would be cumulative, meaning, they add up and go longer, deeper, wider, heavier than the previous –  and he was right.

The nausea and back ache have been continuous, managed by medications (which make me very draggy so my doctor is putting me in for a different type which I can pick up today) , but this extreme fatiuged feeling – there is no pill  for, but “time”.  Passing the time.  And this week, that’s been lots of time.  The backache, I am told, is caused by bone marrow trying to rebuild blood cells and platelets, which are promoted by the shot I receive at home after each treatment. If not given this shot, my cell counts could drop too low and I could be at risk for infection or not be strong enough for the next dose of chemo.  So…I get the lesser of two evils – lucky me! I am having pain in my right rib cage which the doctor will have x-rayed when I am there Wednesday. It feels bruised, sore to the touch. No, I haven’t been having any boxing sessions lately!

In the meantime I watch my world go on all around me and try to step into it, but soon have to give up.  It is a defeating feeling.  I have always been much a Do-er.  Last night I was so tired at 9 o’clock, managed to stay up until nearly 10, and Tim said “Why are you so tired?”  I had to laugh and say, “Well,  I drove to the post office,, dropped my mail in the slot, I ate lunch and sat at a table and all of that just about did me in!”  Just that little effort took it outa me!  Nevermind all of the other things that need to be done and have to wait!  Fortunately it is now the weekend and we can all play catch up at home. 

Kelli woke us in the middle of the night with the flu.  She is home sick from school now and I am keeping my distance.  I can’t afford to get the flu on top of everyting else.  Tomorrow night is a benefit concert at her school for one of her fellow students  injured in a tragic car accident last month. Kelli is part of a singing quartet and does NOT want to miss it.   She keeps asking if she’ll be well enough to perform.  I hope so!   Prayers are appreciated!

I awaken today with the sun shining – a nice site to see during a gloomy winter season!  This sunset photo (above) was taken by my cousin in California -thanks Janelle!  It is a beautiful reminder to me that the sun comes back every day.  Even after a dark night.  I’m grateful we can count on at least that! 

…Weeping may endure for a night,

but Joy Comes in The Morning.

Psalm 30:5

My Life Is In Your Hands – VIDEO HERE or click arrow in the photo below

This entry was posted on February 21, 2009. 7 Comments

The BIG slump

This is pretty much how I have felt for the last 24 hours – like crawling just to get up off the couch. My mouth feels like the saliva glands are secreting icky juice, and my back aches from top to bottom. No energy. I expect this should last a few more days before I emerge human once again. Each chemo round has had its own personality, it seems. It’s just something I am learning to expect, put up with, and survive through. My family has managed to move along quite fine with me out of commission. The wonderful meals coming to us and great encouragment of phone calls and e-mails means so much!

Please just continue to pray for strength to get through the day and put on a happy face! 🙂

This entry was posted on February 16, 2009. 1 Comment

A Secret Delivery!

001This photo doesn’t really do this floral bouquet justice!  A knock at the door last night and I found this lovely arrangement just sitting on the front porch with a note from “Friends”. How Sweet!  It was so HEAVY I had to have Tim lift it into the house!  It’s HUGE  (about 2 1/2 feet tall!)!  Soon the whole family room was filled with its beautiful scent! Thank you to whoever you are! My secret friends!

Today I woke with nausea again at 6 a.m. but that’s better than the middle of the night so, an improvement, if you ask me!  I still have a third day today of steroids and anti-nausea aids so that should help. 012-1-2-1Here I am day after chemo on Thursday – Kelli likes my wig styled this way.  I get a lot of compliments on it looking quite natural.

Thank you again for all the prayers as I go through the weekend, typically when my fatigue and lack of energy set in.  Pray that I will feel up to attending Kelli’s All-District Choral concert Saturday. God Bless you for your faithfulness to our family and to praying for us!

This entry was posted on February 14, 2009. 2 Comments

The Amazing Race

chemo-thumb4550323-21Chemo round #3 brings me half way through active treatment, meaning I have 3 more chemo therapy sessions to go! Yeah!  My last one will be tax day, April 15.  I met a lady, last week, who is going through the exact same regimen with me, started at the same time and comes every week as I do as ironically we were seated next to each other yesterday.  We asked the nurses to put us together from now on!  She is a bright light in the room, an uplifting smile and positive force.  The hospital is doing construction of the chemo ward for 6 weeks, so some of the rooms are very crowded and tight.  Tim was not allowed to bring in an extra chair to sit with me, so he waited in a nearby waiting room with a tv, and my new friend and I chatted for much our 6 + hours in the chairs.  Tim brought  lunch to both of us and we were very grateful.  For me, nausea set in right away despite the three drugs they gave me for it.  On the way home I breathed in an aromatherapy pen a neighbor had given me and it seemed to work this time!  Then I ate ginger cookies and tea that another friend gave me and again they seemed to work better than the drugs!  I slept through until about 3:30 a.m.when the steroids woke me up and made my mind jittery and unable to fall back to sleep for two hours. Again, nauseated.  Ugh. 

Some have asked me “is the chemo working”?  This is an interesting question.  The way my doctors have described it to me is that after my surgery, chemo therapy and hormonal therapy thereafter, is like an insurance policy against any rogue cells that my have traveled away from my tumors into other areas of my body prior to surgery.  There’s really no way to know (other than scans) if they are there in number large enough to be called cancer, so if they are there,  chemo should theoretically knock ’em out, kill them off.  Scans might light up “something” but what that ‘something ‘,is, or could be  is very speculative (since scans light up everything, both concerning and non-concerning) for someone at my stage and a wild goose chase , all the while biopsying and surgically going after quite probably nothing, especially without symptoms or blood work concerns.  That’s just not practical. The one thing they are checking regularly are  my heart and liver funtions, and my healthy breast, every 4 – 6 months, liver function every 3 weeks.  Other than that, they are going off statitics of this therapy and results obtained through years of studying other women. I hope that clarifies this.

100_9481I talked to my sister the other night for a long time.  She lives in another state, and I haven’t seen her in almost a year.  I told her if I wrote a book one day I think it would be titled We All Have A Story. We do!  Every person I meet along this journey, including my own family, has a story to tell of pain, disappointment, struggle, healing, determination  (This is me and my sister, Diane,in Las Vegas where shelives, last April) and God’s grace in their lives.  I am not unique to this.  I draw a lot of encouragement hearing the stories from other people and how they have found stength to run the race before them.  Cancer is just one0061 of many tools God has to bring us closer to Himself, a reliance upon Him, and an acknowledgement of His power. Once you’ve experienced it, there’s no turning back and you want to tell your story!

Thank you again for your prayers and please continue to ask God that this nausea subside so I can feel myself again very soon.

A Day At The Beach

leesylvania-state-park-2-07-09-033-2This is the first winter day we have had temps higher than 50*F,  so we spent the day at Leesylvania State Park, just minutes from our home.  Tim, Kelli, Colby and I enjoyed a stroll along the drift wood and brought a sack lunch.  Notice the ice behind me!?  No swimming today! To see all our pictures click HERE

I am enjoying these last few days before going back to chemo on Wednesday this week.  I spent some time upgrading my web site and we’re going out to dinner with friends tonight.  Monday I will  have lunch with a friend after going for my blood work.  Tuesday I’ll try and catch up the house, laundry and cleaning before I’m down and leesylvaniastatepark2-07-090142-fresco-smallout for ten days or so.  Your prayers are appreciated that the nausea will be lessened this chemo round.

This is the day the lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

This entry was posted on February 8, 2009. 3 Comments

Yeah For Normal!

007Today was the best I have felt in a very long time.  I went grocery shopping and unloaded the bags all myself!  Then I cooked a yummy quiche and went to a ladies night out at church.  It is 11 p.m. and I am still going strong!  It felt good to laugh and meet new friends. Three different people at different points in the day told me I sounded normal…I sometimes forget about cancer and chemo and it feels great.

My son Keith has the flu so I am praying that I won’t catch it from him.  I’m staying as far away as possible.

I had no nosebleeds today so I know somebody out there is praying hard for me! Thank you!  Even the swelling in my arm is down.  I am praising God for every small sign that He is touching me through the power of praying friends and family members.

This entry was posted on February 6, 2009. 3 Comments


standingalone My day started with a cup of coffee, and then I sat down at the computer when suddenly a gush of a nose bleed started.  Thankfully, right then, my neighbor knocked at the door to walk my dog.  I opened the door, wads of Kleenex in hand,  and she took the dog and the leash and I managed to get to the couch to lay down.  I thought I had gotten past these by sleeping with the humidifier for the past several nights.  Apparently not.

I had my Herceptin infusion today, which my friend Deb drove me to.  I spoke with an oncologist  about the nose bleeds, and also pointed out that my left forearm is sore and swollen.  She referred me to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor for the nose bleeds (which could take several days to get an appintment for), and then after my infusion she had me go to see the doctor who installed my port.  Evidently the nose bleeds are the least of my concerns right now.  Wasting no time, Dr. Cho personally walked me to ultrasound and had me seen right away for my arm, which they fear may have a blood clot in it.  The unltrasound took over an hour.  They were very thorough, scanning from my elbow to my heart, along the path of the port, having me make a fist, then relax, testing the flow.  I am waiting to hear from the radiologist now.  It could take a day or so before the results are back.   (UPDATE Thursday 2/05/09: The doctor called – it is not a clot – only restricted blood flow as a result of the catheter coming from the port – a complication that is common.  )I asked what they do if there is a blood clot and they told me that they put patients on blood thinners for that.  I thought, GREAT!  More nose bleeds!

As with each week, I met some more chemo patients today. One lady, younger than me, in stage 4 breast cancer, which had already gone to her lung and bone.  He lungs appear clear now but they are treating the bone cancer .  As you would expect in a room filled with women who have lost their hair, HAIR (or the lack thereof)   seemed to be the topic of the day. She was showing us her new brown baby soft hair growth, and we all gazed longingly for the day when that would be us….She showed us her old driver’s license with her formerly blonde hair.   How interesting!  When they all learned that the hair under my ball cap was not mine, they were shocked!   They couldn’t believe how real it looked and wanted to know how they could get one too!  We exchanged web site links, and chatted for the three hours we were together.  Comrads in battle, each in our own fight.

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2009. 4 Comments

New Image

1455987223_bcfe7f4e07 This is the saying on the wall of my oncologist’s office : BALD IS BEAUTIFUL.  I am trying to embrace it but it just isn’t working for me.  I was asked the other day if now that my hair has been gone a few weeks, am I getting use to it?  No, I said.  I will never get use to it and I just don’t like looking in the mirror at myself.  Perhaps STRENGTH is beautiful, or COURAGE is beautiful, but baldness, nope.  Baldness is the new “in” look for only one segment of our population and that would be MEN! It is a masculine “look”, if you ask me, and so I am having to redefine myself with things other than what I look like on the outside when I see myself  for who I truly am.  People try and comfort me with things like, it is only temporary, or it will grow back (yeah like 3  inches a year!)  Gee!  I can look like a Marine in about 6 months from now! Yippy!  Wigs all summer? Gonna be one hot summer. To top it off, my eyelashes and eyebrows are thinning this week.  This changes your appearance significantly. Trust me.  229863793_3dcde682ab Like a dandelion whose seeds have all but blown off, it no longer appears the same. Do I sound like I am having a pity party over this?  Maybe I am.  It is only now just beginning to set in all that I have lost and I am going through somewhat of a grieving process about it.  I’m told that is normal.  It is necessary before moving forward in a positive direction.  A direction that leads towards accceptance, but I have a hard time believing I will ever really accept this part.  According to the Kubler-Ross model, anger is the second of five stages of grieving.  Somewhere in there, before acceptance, comes depression – boy I hope I don’t have to go THERE! One comfort I find in all of this is that God loves me just the way I am.  He made me.  He knows my heart.  He has no opinions about my appearance.   He is spirit.  He sees my spirit.

Samuel 16:7 says:   “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance (even if that man is just myself) , but the LORD looks at the heart.”

He is renewing my inner image to be more in line with His image.  Compassionate, patient, joyful…I hope these radiate right through my bald head!



This entry was posted on February 4, 2009. 5 Comments

The Perfect Day!

Breakfast at iHop, a long afternoon nap, and dinner at P.F. Chengs with great friends! 003What more could make a better day? I am feeling pretty good and energy is coming back. I have had several slow to stop nose bleeds, a result of dry air plus low platlet count, but I borrowed a humidifier and hope that will help things. Tomorrow is the Super Bowl so we are looking forward to chicken wings and home made soup. Glad my taste has returned! For every pound I lose the week following chemo, I tend to more than make up for in the weeks after! (Not a great weight loss plan if you ask me.)

msdbc1 <——-Please click on the flag to read how

you can support Curtis’ girlfriends Avon Walk for me May 2 – 3

here in Washington D.C. Go Rachael! And Thank You!

This entry was posted on February 1, 2009. 1 Comment