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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

you know you're looking better when...

You definitely know you're looking better and healthier when the kids go to your side of the bed (not Daddy's) in the wee hours!

Usually I'm the one they wake up with their know, "Mommy I had a bad dweam", "Mommy I can't find Baby Brownie" (stuffed animal), "Mommy the closet door is open and I'm scared", or my favorite: "Mommy I have to throw up" (and then they do, all over me!)

But the last several weeks, since I started radiation and chemo, the girls have been going to John's side of the bed. At first I think it was by accident, because we rearranged our bedroom and switched sides just before treatment started. (I wanted a fresh look, better feng shui.) So they thought they were getting Mommy but it turned out to be Daddy. And then not long after that, I was totally out of it, so wiped out, that John told them to get him instead of me. Even Baby Jesse stopped calling for Mommy when he woke up with a wet diaper. He called "Daddy Daddy!" instead, which made me cry.

Since the middle of last week, I've been getting the visits. I don't mind at all, especially now that I'm feeling like my mojo is on its way back. Last week, around 3am, Leah ran to my side of the bed and said "Mommy Mommy! Look! My tooth fell out!" That snaggletooth had finally come out on her pillow. Thank goodness she didn't swallow it! I calmed her down, got her to use the potty while I wrapped up the tooth in toilet paper. We put it under her pillow and hoped it wasn't too late for the tooth fairy to come. (It wasn't.)

Last night's visit from Frances was something else! She came to my side of the bed, crying hysterically. "What's wrong honey?" I said, "Did you have a bad dream?"

"No," she wailed. "My underwear fell off my head and I can't find it!"

The girls have been wishing for snow, and they heard if you wear your pajamas inside out and sleep with your underwear on your head, then it will bring on the snow. So, little Frances went to bed last night with her (clean) underwear pulled completely over her pretty little head. It was all the way down to her chin! What a girl! After she fell asleep, John must have taken them off so she wouldn't suffocate, and so when she woke up at 2am and couldn't find them, she panicked. I hugged her and promised that it only mattered if the undies were on her head when she went to bed, that the snow didn't care if they weren't on when she woke up. She was OK with that and soon settled down for the rest of the night.

And today we had a bit of snow!

I don't always get back to sleep right away after these wee-hour-visits, but I am so glad they are coming to see me, finally. It makes me feel like things are getting back to normal. At least the girls think Mommy's looking better. And Jesse has started calling for Mommy once again, which is wonderful! John still gets the diaper, but at least baby hasn't forgotten me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Please come to my pity party

We have so much sickness in the house, it is ridiculous! Poor Leah threw up all over the kitchen floor last night. Apparently, the stomach-ache-throwing-up virus has been running rampant through her 1st grade classroom. A good friend of hers was up all Friday night with it, and I hear another friend had it last night. And Leah just finished the antibiotics for the strep she had a week and a half ago! Poor girl can't catch a break!

Jesse has been on antibiotics for about a week. He's got a runny-nose-cough thing going on. He also just finished antibiotics not long ago for a wicked ear infection. The pediatrician now has him on Nasonex (nasal spray), just like sister Leah who is on it almost year-round for allergies.

Frances is sounding very nasal these days and is very very crabby and demanding. The demanding part is nothing new; though a sweet girl, Frances can be very needy and clingy at times. But the foul moods and the nasal thing....something may be brewing with her. Our nanny (did you know we have a nanny here to help me with the kids? weekdays from 8am to 2pm. She is wonderful!) thinks it's PMS. I know kids are starting puberty earlier these days, but at 4-almost-5-years-old? Hmmm. Should we call Mr. Ripley?

John and I both have sinus infections, and luckily we have doctors who take our word for it over the phone (and know there's a cancer patient in the house) and so we are both on the Z-pack. How great to be saved from an office visit, who knows what else we'd pick up in the waiting room???

Our one healthy girl, 10-year-old Emma, is keeping her distance from everyone in the house. The ironic thing about this is, Emma's birthday slumber party was scheduled for tonight (the schools are closed Monday)....and now, because of everyone else's sicknesses, especially with Leah throwing up, we've had to postpone the party. I wouldn't say Emma was devastated, but she was plenty disappointed. I'm a little relieved, because the way I feel now (I get winded just walking across the room!) I don't know how I could possibly lead a handful of 10-year-olds through the party stuff. We have a craft planned, plus make-your-own sundaes (a craft in itself), a movie, and lots of pizza. I'm tired just thinking about it!

So instead of a birthday party, we're doing a pity party today. We'd be so happy if you could join us! What makes you pitiful today? Please share! ;-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da...Feelin' Groovy

Yes, drugs are a wonderful thing. Those of you with children, my apologies if they read this over your shoulder and get the wrong impression. But I can't say enough about the drugs my doctors have me on. They are working wonders, really making this treatment somewhat tolerable.

I've got TussinEX, a cough medicine laced with hydrocodone, to keep me from coughing myself off the radiation table. (Moving targets are bad.) It also gives me a little cough relief at night when I'm trying to sleep. It is supposed to make me loopy, and I'm not supposed to drive, so I get a ride to radiation every morning (different people from church and the neighborhood have stepped forward, schedule coordinated by good friends Christine and Tracy).

I also have Femara, my old friend that is keeping the breast cancer at bay. This is a different cancer, remember? Squamous cell? Because who wants to deal with breast cancer when you've got this other cancer going on?

And I have Nystatin, for thrush, which I had in my mouth (from when I was taking Prednisone). Although the thrush is gone from my mouth, I still take that medicine because the radiation can cause it in my esophagus. It is a sickly sweet liquid that makes me want to yak! Ugh!

Speaking of Prednisone, my oncologist just prescribed that for me the other day. I've had a weird pressure in my ribcage the past few days, and she's concerned that there is inflamation somewhere in there....maybe the liver, maybe just the tumor reacting to treatment. But to be safe, she wants me to take a low dose of the steroid for the next week. I'm fine with that, it's a puppy-upper sort of pill and I'll take all the pep I can get!

Beginning Wednesday nights and usually continuing through Sunday morning, I take Compazine, an anti-nausea pill. That settles my stomach better than gingerale or any comfort food! I've only taken one dose this morning--it's a 4-times-a-day pill--and haven't given it a second thought. Of course, now that I'm talking about it, my stomach is starting to go all queasy on me.

So I guess this is a good time to wrap up this little drug overview and say TTFN (Tigger talk, means "ta-ta for now").

By the way, I am feeling pretty good today, which is great for a Thursday after Tuesday chemo. I fell asleep on the sofa for a few hours over lunchtime, woke up feeling sleepy but not sick. Thank goodness for the little things!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I wore my boobs to the weigh-in today...

...and I'm not sorry! I thought they'd gain me a good pound or two, but it turns out they only weigh 12 ounces (I weighed them on my kitchen scale when I got home). Oh well, it was a good try!

Why the deceit? I just am SO TIRED of everyone making a fuss over my weight. I'd been dropping weight steadily since treatment started, actually had dropped about 20 pounds before that (thanks to Fosomax-induced swallowing issues). I've lost a pound or two every week since then, and had a big drop 2 weeks ago that freaked out my doctors. "5 or 10 more pounds and we'll have to put a feeding tube in your stomach," they warned. Which of course frightened the bejeebers out of me!

So I guess that fear of the feeding tube led me to be a bit deceitful today. On Wednesdays, after radiation, I meet with my radiation oncologist. He is great, but he's the one making the biggest fuss over my weight. Even though I'd been eating really well lately, I thought it wouldn't hurt to throw an extra pound or two in. After radiation, I changed into my clothes and put on my bra (with the prostheses). Not including the 12-ounce boobs, I actually gained 4 pounds since last week! Pretty cool. I fessed up to my parents and John, but not the doctor. Didn't think he would find it funny, and I was afraid he might have me frisked before future weigh-ins.

Unfortunately, my weight has become a pretty serious issue. Last week, when everyone was so upset over my weight, I weighed in at 112 pounds. That's with my clothes and shoes on. I'm 5-foot, 7-inches tall (actually 5-foot 6-3/8inches but I round up). My normal weight is between 130 and 135. Before all this nonsense started, it had crept up to 140. Then when I had all those swallowing problems after starting Fosomax, it fell down to the 120s. So I started off treatment on the low side, and each week of chemo made me more tired than the last. I've had more swallowing issues from the radiation, and fatigue from chemo. Thursday through Saturday I can't eat much, even though John wakes me every 2 hours to give me soup or pudding or whatever.....wah wah wah....

So you can imagine, seeing the scale read 116.9 pounds today was the greatest feeling! I was so proud! The main reason I was able to gain some pounds back? My oncologist gave me the week off from chemo last week. Last Tuesday, I was so weak from the past 4 weeks of chemo and radiation, and I had dropped so much weight and was again having trouble eating, she felt a break would do me good. And within 3 days, I felt like a normal person again. I actually felt better than I had in months! I ate and ate and ate. I played with the kids. It was wonderful, the best New Year's gift ever!

And thanks to my chemo break, when I went in for chemo yesterday, I went in feeling strong again. Chemo makes me hungry (I think it's the steroids) and so I ate almost the whole time I was plugged in. I ate when I got home. I ate several meals today and am looking forward to my mid-evening snack! I've got to pack on the pounds because when I crash my appetite will be gone for a few days. I don't expect to gain weight, I just want to maintain it. And if I can keep it at 115/116, I'll be happy and so will my doctors.

To think, I didn't need the boobs after all!