Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

You know things are good when your oncologist is all smiles

My oncologist was absolutely giddy today when she saw me. I always meet with her before my chemo, so she can review my blood count (they take my blood the minute I walk in the office), examine the lymph node in my armpit and the mass in my breast, answer my questions (I always have a few), and just chat a little bit about how things are going.

She was thrilled that my bloodwork looked so good, and she was so pleased that I haven't had any bad side effects to report, except for the occasional queasy stomach a few days post-chemo. No vomiting, no mouth sores, no drastic weight loss, nothing terrible so far (except for my hair falling out but that was a given, and it turned out to be not so traumatic for me anyway).

When she examined me, she had a hard time finding the lymph node. It took her well over a minute to locate it, and when she did find it she remarked at how small it had become. Even the mass in my breast, which was a fairly large mass of dense tissue that held the smaller mass (about 1 inch) of cancer cells, had drastically reduced. I've come a long way since she first examined me on September 20th.

She looked at me with a huge smile on her face and said, "You have done SO well! I am so happy for you!" She was so excited I thought she was going to grab my hands and dance around the room with me!

What a good feeling, when your oncologist can't contain her happiness over your progress. It's funny how different things make me happy now. It has really changed. While hugs from my babies, a nice hot cup of tea, and a sparkly kitchen still bring me joy, I also look forward to white counts in the acceptable range, nights when I can sleep on my tummy without my port hurting, and being able to stomach food other than chicken soup and crackers.

So I am even more encouraged than ever, and it's only my 3rd treatment.

My sister Susie went with me to chemo today, and she got to meet my oncologist (and could see why I like my doctor so much). We had a good time, considering the circumstances. I was at the other end of the room today, with a different but nice nurse, surrounded as usual by patients much older than me.

I wrote some letters and read a little, chatted with my sister and the nurse, chewed on ice chips when the nurse administered one of the drugs (to help prevent or lessen the mouth sores the drug can cause). Didn't meet anyone interesting like I did last time when I sat next to Dr. Wally, my idol. Dr. Wallace Johnston writes a business column for the local paper and has a radio show too. I thoroughly enjoy reading his column. I love all that stuff. My favorite classes in graduate school were Organizational Behavior, Organization Theory, Management Psychology, all the stuff he writes about. Unfortunately, when I realized the man next to me was Dr. Wally I became tongue-tied, couldn't remember any of his columns or advice or anything from my we ended up chatting about Motivation and Frances' potty training. He had some suggestions that had to do with Obedience vs. Motivation, with Habit thrown in there too. I know he thinks I'm an absolute idiot! But I digress. No one today as interesting as Dr. Wally. Except for my sister.

After chemo today, I was as usual feeling fine so Susie and I took off for a wig salon I had heard about. It turned out to be a wonderful experience! Reggie, the owner, greeted us as we walked in. Raved about how we look so much alike, there's no doubt we're sisters. Loved my ponytail wig. Couldn’t believe I had just come from chemo, I was so perky and smiling so sweetly. Et cetera. He was so sincere, not just playing us to get a sale. He told us how he had started his business after so many of his and his wife’s family members....grandparents, sister, brother, aunts….were diagnosed with cancer. How he likes the smaller salon experience, and being able to help others get through this part of their cancer battle.

When I described what my normal hairstyle looked like, and what I was hoping to find, Reggie immediately found three wigs for me. The first: too overpowering. The second: too much hair. The third: perfect! He was thrilled! I was thrilled! Susie, my fashion consultant, was thrilled! Reggie sent us outside with a mirror and told me to walk around and look at myself in the natural light before I made a decision. Susie and I agreed it was perfect, and we saw no need to try any others on. We bought my wig, I gave Reggie a big hug (I couldn’t help it, he was just so sweet), and Susie drove me home to grab some lunch.

It really was a good day. Things are going well. I had some stew tonight, went to bed earlier than the kids, and got a good solid three-hour nap before waking up to baby's cries. At that moment when I opened my eyes, John walked in to retrieve the baby monitor and startled me. I screamed and jumped and somehow flailed my arm across the nightstand and knocked over my bowl of crackers in between the bed and nightstand, which made such a rattle that between that and being scared out of my wits I decided that I was not going to get back to sleep any time soon. But I had expected to be up for a little while tonight anyway, thanks to the steroids they give me to make the anti-nausea drugs work better.

So I can add today's things to my list of what makes me happy: finding the perfect wig, having fun with my sister at chemo, and laughing over a flying bowl of crackers.

John is just now making me a cup of tea, some of the Sleepytime tea my friends Christine and Susanne gave me. Hopefully that will do the trick and I can enjoy some more quality sleep....on my tummy of course. That of all things right now would bring me great joy!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nothing new, all is well

Everything is going well. No complaints. I feel good, not tired (at least not because of the chemo, maybe because of my beautiful but sometimes exhausting children). My stomach has been back to normal since last week, and I haven't abused it too badly so I'm feeling fine. (One small mistake: I decided three days after my last treatment that I needed to stop babying my stomach with all those crackers and soups. I figured if I just eat like a normal person than I will feel like a normal person. Not true. But then, eating 10 miniature chocolate bars and a handful of chocolate kisses while stuffing goodie bags for Leah's birthday party isn't exactly "eating like a normal person". Chemo or no chemo, not the smartest move!)

I've been up and around, life as usual: bringing Emma to the bus stop, dropping off and picking up Leah at preschool, making lunches, changing diapers, baking cookies, and hosting Leah's birthday party (10 very well-behaved 4-and 5-year-olds….a very fun Halloween birthday costume party). It's been busy but not overly so, nothing we can't handle!

In between, I'm just gearing up for my next treatment on Friday....packing my chemo bag with activities and snacks, making sure I have my comfort food on hand for the weekend, stuff like that. My sister is here for the week (my mom went home for a well-deserved break) and so Susie will go with me on Friday. Afterwards we plan to visit a wig salon, hoping I have better luck than the first one I went to (that is a whole other sad but now funny story). Now that I have my crewcut it will be easier to try wigs on. While I love my ponytail wig, I could use something less sporty.

So, things are good. Nothing new to report. Just life going on as usual!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The greatest invention ever, next to the port!

This ponytail wig is the greatest invention ever. (OK, the port might be better, but it's in a different category)

I can't believe how cool this wig is. I found it online, at Hip Hats With Hair. Mine is called the PonySport. It fits under a baseball cap. I just love it. I ordered a hair color pretty close to mine, and paid an extra $16 to have some blonde mixed in. Why not, right? It turned out to be a very close match.

When Emma and Leah saw me wear my ponytail wig yesterday, they loved it. Leah ran to the porch and told everyone who walked by, "Mommy has a new wig!" (which is much better than a few weeks ago, when she told everyone "Mommy has booby cancer!") Frances hasn't noticed anything different about me. Baby just wants to tug at the baseball hat.

While my two oldest loved the wig, they were more fascinated with my hair underneath. They begged me to see it. I showed Emma after dinner, but waited until this morning to show Leah. (I didn't want her having nightmares last night if she was traumatized by my new look.) Emma thought my hair felt soft, although she pointed out that I have a weird flat spot on the back of my head.

Leah thinks my buzzed head is cool, too. She calls it my "Uncle David hair". Emma was outraged: "That's not very nice to say about Mommy's hair!" We assured her it was a compliment! Actually, it's a little shorter than my brother's crew cut, maybe 1/4 to 3/8"long? My hair will still fall out eventually, but at least the pieces are short. No more clogging up the vacuum. And I can gather up the little hairs with a lint roller now. Very convenient.

Oh, back to my wig. Again, it is the best. If you know of anyone going through chemo, or anyone losing their hair, be sure to tell them about Hip Hats With Hair: They make ponytail wigs, wigs that fit under regular hats, wigs with scarves attached (great for kids), and wigs with swim caps attached. The woman who founded the company started making these wigs for a friend who had complained that traditional wigs were uncomfortable. When I called to order my PonySport, I placed my order with the founder. Apparently she mans the phones, too.

So my wig was a hit with everyone in the house. I can't say enough about it. Just wanted to share!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Well, it's not hideous!

I did it! My first (and hopefully only) buzz cut. I'm no Natalie Portman, but I don't look least I don't think so.

I didn't even cry. I was too busy watching. It was fascinating! Kelly, my hairdresser, took the electric trimmer and shaved my hair off in sections. She piled up the hair on the table for me, so I could take it all home. It was a fairly large heap. I wrapped it carefully in foil and placed it in a gallon-size baggie. Still not sure if I'll set up a shrine for it or have a doll wig made from it (for my grandmother Katherine's doll. My mom has had it for years. I think the moths got the old wig.)

I am so proud that I didn't fall apart. I had decided to go by myself because I thought I'd be braver alone, but now I wish I had taken my dad up on his offer to go with me. He could have taken pictures, and he would have had fun flirting with Kelly, and her mom and grandmother.

Kelly also cut and styled my ponytail wig while I was there. It looked fabulous. I wore it home and ran some errands on the way. No one stared at me like I was a freak, at least not because of my hair. I felt like I blended in. Then later at the bus stop, my neighbors didn't even know it was a wig. That felt great!

Losing my hair has been the thing I was dreading the most, more than chemo if you can believe it. I'm glad I decided to say goodbye to my hair while it was still looking pretty good. It was incredibly freeing, taking charge. And I kind of like my new look. It's actually kind of cool.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Starting to rain hair....just call me PigPen!

My hair is starting to fall out! It started around Monday, just a few hairs at a time….on my pillow, on my brush….not in clumps at first, except for when baby Jesse grabbed a fistful.

Now it's a little more noticeable. Hairs all over the back of my shirt. All over baby. Just all over! (Ewww, GWOSS! as Frances would say.) I still have a lot of hair left, fortunately, so right now you really can't tell, unless you look in my bathroom trashcan or sink (which I don't recommend. It's GWOSS!)

But wouldn't you know, it's only the hair on my head that's shedding! How unfair! Not the hair on my legs or my armpits. Not the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin. Not my moustache (rats!) Not even the two little hairs in the mole on my right cheek. They're all sticking around for the show.

Well, yesterday I decided that I did not want to watch the show. My hair has been too good to me all these years. I can't watch its slow demise. So I made an appointment for Friday, at noon, to get it cut off. I might have it shaved, or maybe I'll leave some fuzz. I think by then it would be better just to take it all. But this way, I have taken control. The last thing I want to do is stand by and watch.

The best part of getting my hair cut while it still looks pretty good is that I'll be able to keep it, not chase strands around the house. Perhaps I'll store it in a special satin-lined box. Or maybe I'll have it made into a toupee for baby Jesse (there was an article in the paper last week about baby toupees, no joke!). My mom suggested we have some doll wigs made from it. We have lots of ideas.

And when my hair grows back in, which it eventually will, I'll have a sample of its original color in case I am forced to dye it. Or, if luck is with me, it will grow back blonde and curly!

A special P.S. to my brother David: You said you were going to shave your head to support me when I lose my hair. While I appreciate the offer, I have a different idea. Why not grow your hair in support of my baldness? After all, you're the one with the beautiful natural curls. (Why is it always the boy who gets the curl?) So if you can stand it, grow your hair out a little....(our mother asked me to add "Just not TOO long!")

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The nicest way to wake up

I have had the best mornings since Friday's chemo. Each morning, a different girl has woken me up in her own sweet way. Saturday, Emma woke me up with a request to join her downstairs for breakfast (she and her sisters had prepared breakfast for everyone, see previous posting "Day After Treatment #2). Sunday, Leah stood by my side until my eyes opened. "Mommy do you want to see my picture?", she said as she held up her drawing of a girl in a pretty dress. She also invited me downstairs to have breakfast in the restaurant (the girls played waitress that morning. Emma wore a canvas toolbelt and took our orders on a notepad.) Monday, little Frances woke me up with "Hi Mommy, you need a kiss!" She planted a wet one on my cheek, then toddled off to the hallway. (I guess she had been AWOL. I heard my mother say "Frances, there you are!" and then sounds of a chase.)

This morning it was baby Jesse's turn. Unfortunately, Jesse didn't wait until a decent hour, like his sisters did. No, my sweet little baby boy woke me (and my mother) at about 2 a.m. I had been dreaming that I was awakened by a baby's frantic cries. In my dream, I got out of bed, opened all the windows and tried to figure out where the cries were coming from. "What a horrible mother!", I thought, "Can't she hear that poor baby?!" When I finally woke up and realized it was MY baby and I was the horrible mother, I ran to his room to find my mom already had things under control. Wet diaper. Together we finished dressing Jesse and I told her about my dream. We whispered/chatted a little longer, then she fixed up a bottle and reluctantly went to bed after I assured her I was fine. I settled into the rocker with my hungry, sleepy baby, pleased that he too wanted to take a turn in waking up Mommy.

Sweet baby Jesse is asleep. I've checked on the girls and they're fine. I've made lunches for school/preschool, fixed a snack for me, and am ready to try to sleep again. I wonder who will wake me up next....and if she/he could possibly top these past few perfect mornings.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sleepy but fine

Sunday and Monday were not so bad. This Monday morning wasn't horrible like the first Monday after chemo, but this Sunday I was a little less energetic than the first Sunday after chemo. So I guess it kind of leveled out. Nothing bad, I still can't complain (although I always manage to)!

I took a nice long nap late Sunday morning. Had planned to go to 11:00 church service with my mom but ran out of gas around 10:00. Slept until 1:00 and spent the rest of the day shuffling around like an old man. (Not an old woman, I explained to my husband. An old man, because I'm grouchy and phlegmy and able to fall asleep sitting up in a chair.)

Monday was about the same as Sunday, but I found if I stopped being lazy then I felt much better. I still took a catnap on the sofa, but I also walked to the bus stop to pick up Emma and went to the mailbox with Leah. If I keep moving, I'll be fine.

So, all is well here. I made it through another treatment. I even made up a cancer joke! Well actually, I thought of the punchline first but am having trouble with the lead-in. Here it is:
Q: What do you call a friend who accompanies you to treatment?
A: Chemo-sabe
(Maybe it should be Who did the Lone Ranger (or Tonto?) bring to keep him company during treatment? I don't know! Suggestions are welcome, as are any other cancer jokes you'd like to send!)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Day After Treatment #2 - Would be perfect if I could just sleep!

7:45am: I woke up this morning to my oldest daughter, Emma, at my side. "Mommy, we made you a special breakfast! Come downstairs!" I asked her to set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes and if I wasn't down by then, to send someone up to wake me. And so Leah bounced upstairs, right on time. The girls were so excited. I hurried downstairs to the kitchen and was greeted by all 3 girls, sitting like ladies at their places at the table, anxiously waiting for me to unveil my breakfast. It was so cute. They made me a plate full of Cheerios, saltines, a banana, and a big glass of water, all the things I can tolerate just after chemo. What thoughtful babies we have!

So my morning started out with a special gesture from my girls. They told me how they made custom breakfasts for everyone (Daddy got a huge bowl of cereal and a snack bar) all by themselves. Little Frances, 2-1/2 years old, chimed in, "I helped tuuu". Emma and Leah quickly corrected her, "No! She didn't help!" "Yes I DID!" "No you didn't" and so on......bringing the morning to its usual close.

I feel good today, tired but too wired to nap. I tried a few times. Those steroids they sneak in with the anti-nausea drugs make me much too peppy. I feel like I'm talking a mile a minute, faster than usual. I want to sleep but I can't! So I kept busy: planted flowers by the mailbox and lamppost, played Monkey in the Middle with the kids, walked baby Jesse in his stroller, ran around helping Emma balance on her bike (she still hasn't quite mastered the "no training wheels" thing), played Charades with Leah....stuff like that. My oncologist did say I could exercise when I felt up to it. And I didn't feel like sitting around like a lump today.

My evil plan was to make my body so tired that it can't help but sleep tonight. My evil plans sometimes backfire, though. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, October 13, 2006

I'm a believer!

OK, I will admit that the port is a wonderful thing. Originally I suspected that the nurses set me up last time, by poking so many veins that I passed out, so that they could drive home the point that I need a port. But that is a totally paranoid thought. I no longer think they did it on purpose, at least not consciously.

Chemo treatment #2 today was easy as pie, thanks to the port. And my iPod. And my husband. Not necessarily in that order, although the port does have the top spot on my list. I was plugged in to the drugs in a blink, and then was free to do whatever I needed. No more sitting around with my arm outstretched.

So yes, I am a new woman thanks to my port. I can't promise I'll never complain about it again, because it still hurts like you wouldn't believe, but that pain (my dr promised) will go away. And it's nothing compared to my relief at how quickly time went by today.

I am tired even after a 2-hour nap this afternoon so will excuse myself for a bit. I just wanted to post an update for friends and family who might be checking here for the latest.
Here's the latest:
I did fine.
I feel good, though a little tired.
I love my port.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Port installation complete, just need my meds

As I said to my sister when she called this afternoon, "I've got great pain meds and I'm not afraid to use them."

I'm really sore and kind of loopy from the pain medication but the port is in. They left the needle in to make it easy for the chemo nurse to hook me up on Friday, so I've got lots of extra things (tubes and creepy stuff) sticking out. Quite a sight. The doctor assured me they'd remove it after chemo on Friday. Then I will just have a little lump, like a quarter stuck under my skin.

I have to carry a medical ID card with me that describes where the port is located. I'll need it in certain medical situations, and also if I set off any metal detectors (the nurses said it can happen)

The procedure itself didn't take very long, not that I remember it of course. We were late getting started. The doctor was about 40 minutes late. No one knew where he was, just that he was running late. So they retrieved my book from my bag of belongings and I read Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, it's maybe the only one of hers I'd never read) until they wheeled me into the OR.

I had to remind the nurses several times that they could not throw out my hair, in case it spontaneously fell out during the operation. I told them my 4-year-old (this is true) wants to store it in a bag for me. They promised me they'd keep it. I was relieved to find it still attached when I woke up, although it was matted down in several spots. I don't want to know with what!

I can't shower for 2 days which is absolutely against my nature. John suggested we arrange a trash bag around my neck and he'd hose me down. I don't think he was kidding. He also offered to wash my hair in the sink, which would be great. I don't want to look like a bum for my treatment on Friday.

Well, enough about my personal hygiene. Off to take my painkillers and try to get some sleep!

The port goes in at noon

I'm getting a port put in today. I think the correct term is "Port-a-Cath". It is a catheter they run in a major vein in my chest, below the collarbone. It allows the chemo nurses to put the IV in quickly, avoiding battle with the veins in my arms. Just plug and play.

For me, a port means hands-free chemo sessions....I can actually do something during treatment, instead of sitting with one arm extended so I don't interfere with the needle. Try reading a book with one hand! Page turning is a challenge. Not to mention retrieving the book from the floor.

So a port is a good thing. I'm just not thrilled about the incision. Or that I haven't been able to eat or drink since midnight. I'm starving! They use a twilight anesthesia, so I'll be "under" but not really. They say I could be sore for a few days, but that many people get their port done and then go right to chemo the same day.

Originally I had planned to do all my chemo treatments with my arm veins. I didn't think they were that bad. But since I almost ran out of veins at my first treatment, and since I can still see the marks on my arms (like a junkie) after just one treatment, I definitely see the value of the port. I just don't like the cutting part. But I'll get over it, hopefully by noon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And the good news is: no cancer on the right!

All this time I've been wondering, who's paying attention to the right breast? Everyone is so concerned about the left one. Once that lymph node in my left armpit showed up, all they ever talked about was the left breast......mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy. The poor right one was just neglected.

At my appt with the oncologist on Friday, I asked her about it. Who IS paying attention to the right breast? I said. She said after treatment is complete, we'd look at it. WHAT? I said, OH NO. I cannot go through this process twice. Please can't we just do a 2 for 1. So she wrote me a prescription for a mammogram and ultrasound for the right breast, and made me an appt for this morning. And I'm glad to report that no one needs to pay attention to the right one for a while now: The radiologist did the mammogram and ultrsound. My right breast is absolutely normal. (Other than being slightly bigger than the left one. But it's always been that way.)

And, unrelated but still exciting: my white count is back up. I stopped by the oncologist's office on tmy way home from the mammogram, to see if they could check my white count. They could, and it is back up within the acceptable range. Finally I can have that salad and apple I'd been craving.....

Sunday, October 08, 2006

How I Found My Cancer

Guys, this may fall under the category of "more than I need to know about Katie's breasts". You might want to skip this posting.

OK, you're still reading. That's your choice. If you decide to read on, you can't say I didn't warn you!

How I found the cancer: I never actually found a lump in my breast. My breasts are fibrous anyway, like a lot of women, and so they have lots of lumps that don't mean anything. I had 2 previous mammograms, 1 in 1997 (I was 32 years old) and 1 in 2000 (35 years). I insisted on them, because my breasts hurt and were lumpy and it bothered me. Those mammograms showed nothing suspicious, just dense, fibrous breasts.

I've been pregnant or nursing almost non-stop since then. No one wants to do a mammogram on a nursing mom (think of how messy that would be!), and when you're pregnant your breasts change so much anyway. It's hard to tell what's a lump and what's normal.

So I never had another mammogram after 2000. Why bother? I hadn't turned 40 yet, I had no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, I don't fall into any high-risk category, AND I nursed all my children for a full year (nursing is supposed to be a preventative thing). When I did turn 40 in April 2005, my annual checkup with my OB/GYN was scheduled for that summer. And by that appointment, I was pregnant with Jesse. So my OB and I decided to postpone my mammogram until after he was born and I had stopped nursing. Again, no family history, no high risk, it didn't seem necessary.

Fortunately for me, my armpit was bothering me in August. It was sore, and after a few days I finally discovered the lump. I thought it might be a lymph node, but I was hoping it was related to nursing Jesse. Maybe I had a clogged milk duct or something. Wishful thinking!

From there everything was urgent: I went to my doctor about the armpit, he immediately sent me to get a mammogram, and the radiologist immediately sent me to the general surgeon. The surgeon immediately did a biopsy, strongly suggested that I think about weaning the baby, and in a few days the biopsy came back positive for cancer.

I learned about my diagnosis on Sept 5th, the first day of school. I brought Emma to the bus stop that morning, John and I took Leah to her Junior Kindergarten class at her preschool, and then we drove on (with Frances and Jesse) to the surgeon's office.

DIAGNOSIS: Stage 2 invasive lobular cancer, possibly lymph node positive (but they won't know until surgery about the lymph node). Stage 2 is early, but it sounds scary just the same! The cancerous cells are in a lumpy mass that was already in my left breast. The whole mass is not cancerous, it's part of my lumpy breast, but hidden within it are those bad cells. I can feel the mass. It's always been there. I just can't feel the cancer within it.

So really, if it hadn't been for that swollen lymph node, I would still be nursing baby Jesse, maybe wondering why the left breast didn't produce as much milk as the right, but still happily nursing him until he turned 1 year in April 2007. Then after that, whenever I saw my OB/GYN for my annual checkup (probably summer 2007), I would have had a mammogram and they would have found the cancer. Think about how much worse off I'd be THEN! That is so much scarier than what I'm facing now, don't you think?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Just call me The Girl in the Bubble

Friday's blood test says my white count is low, not low enough to be dangerous, but low enough to take certain precautions. No crowds, no tending to sick children (of course we all have the sniffles), no handling or eating fresh fruits and vegetables, etc..... So there goes my shopping trip with friends Christine and Susanne. We were supposed to go hat shopping today. They are very fashionable friends and were going to help me find some fun hats.

I really am bummed about cancelling my shopping trip. I want to try on hats while I have my hair. Otherwise I might creep out the customers. But then, it could be fun. We'll see how mischieveous I feel once I lose my hair!

The girls woke me up early (by 8am) this morning, so I brought them downstairs and made pancakes (from scratch, of course!) By the time John and my mom joined us, around 9:30am, I was pretty pooped. Went back for a nap and now feel great. I'm still coughing and sniffling from this cold that I can't shake. But what can you do.

So for now, I'm the Girl in the Bubble, keeping my distance from everything. I actually handled the lettuce when making Emma's sandwich today, then remembered no fresh veggies. Ooops. So I called for John and asked him to peel and slice the banana for Leah's peanut butter and banana sandwich. Geez.

Well, that's all for the moment. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more of my exciting adventures!

Friday, October 06, 2006

One Week After Chemo Treatment #1

Here I am after one week, feeling pretty good.

Was up early to bring Emma to the bus stop. My mom has been doing that for the last 2 weeks but I told her I was ready today. I wanted the time with Emma, and I wanted her to see that I can still do normal things. So we had our usual scuffle over shoes and being ready.....just like the old days!

I am ready to meet with my oncologist today. I have lots of questions, things that never occurred to me in our first meeting on Sept 20th. Back then I was still reeling from my diagnosis and still not sure what the treatment plan would be. Now that I've had time to think and experience the chemo, I can talk to her more intelligently about it all......I hope!

Well, I hear baby Jesse fussing. Gotta run. Will check in again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Better Each Day!

OK, so I'm several days out from chemo. Here's the pattern:
perky, slightly queasy weekend---tough Monday---well above sluggish Tuesday---better and better each day. Tonight (Thursday) I felt strong enough to attend my dance (jazz) class and had no trouble, except for some hot flashes at the end of the hour. (Did I mention that chemo might throw me into early menopause?) But other women in class were hot too, so it may have just been the temp in the studio.

I have to admit, it is not as bad as I had thought. I am tired, but you know, I was tired before all this started. Jesse is a good baby, but between him and his sisters, I was run pretty ragged this summer, especially with John working such long hours almost every day. (It actually worked out well when prepping the girls for my treatments. I explained that the medicine will make me big deal for them! They see me tired all the time.)

So how much is "chemo tired" and how much is "mommy tired"? I keep wondering, but really who cares! As long as I get better, it doesn't matter.

I meet with my oncologist tomorrow (Friday Oct 6th) to check my progress, and next treatment is Friday the 13th. My dr said that the pattern I've seen so far following treatment is what to expect each time. If that's true, then I am very encouraged.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Party's Over: Monday Morning I Hit the Wall

And the weekend was going so well. Even with being up for a few hours Sunday am, I recovered fine and even got out Sunday afternoon for a walk. I wanted the exercise, of course, but it was more a "vanity walk". I just wanted to enjoy the wind blowing through my hair while I still have it! And don't get me started on the unfairness of it all, finally growing my hair out so I can pull it back into a ponytail.....That's a whole other deal! ;-)

Monday morning I absolutely hit the wall and needed help getting out of bed. I was "bone-tired", if that makes sense. But, after a 2-hr nap and some crackers and eggs, I was feeling strong enough to shuffle around the house. I think the Neulasta shot from Saturday had finally set in. (The day after each treatment I get a shot to help boost my white count. This helps me recover more quickly so I can take another dose of chemo in 2 weeks, instead of the usual 3 weeks. Unfortunately, as I learned Monday a.m., it also makes my lower back throb. Tylenol helps, though.)

I did get John to drive me to Emma's school tonight, so I could bring Emma to her Brownie meeting. I wasn't so sure I was ready to be behind the wheel, especially with my precious girl in back! But I did want Emma to see that Mommy can still do normal things, even if it is a little slower.

Still not feeling terrific by dinnertime, but again, it's not that bad. I keep saying it could be worse! At least I still have my hair!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Success: I Survived the Weekend With No Tossing of Cookies!

Sunday morning: Hello, is it time for my next anti-nausea pill?

Still no vomiting. I am very proud of that. And relieved. All weekend I've had queasy spells, kind of like 1st trimester morning sickness, but nothing that chicken soup or a cracker couldn't fix. My oncologist had prescribed a 3-day anti-nausea drug for me to take: 1 for Friday (an hour before chemo), and 1 for Saturday and Sunday morning. I was up for several hours Sunday, about 2-4am, couldn't sleep, felt sick, but didn't want to take my 3rd and last anti-nausea pill too early. So I sat up in bed, choked down crackers (with water, my throat and mouth are really dry this weekend), wrote in my journal and read the Bible. My Aunt Marian had suggested a number of passages to read, ones she thought would bring me comfort (which they did, thank you Aunt M!) I found a few more passages that really helped me, and I wrote them down in my journal under "read these when you're feeling weak!"

So I'm ready for my pill and some breakfast. Scrambled eggs and crackers have been a favorite this weekend. My mom and dad are here, and my dad makes the best eggs. Gotta go place my order!

By the way, I'm pleased with how I feel this weekend. It't not all that bad. I can do this!