Sunday, June 29, 2008


You know what's Amazing? Considering all the buckets of hair I've lost (and that are floating around the house) there's still more on top of my head!

Amazing is also the word I thought of when we got a phone call from Stephen today who's at army boot camp at Ft. Benning, Georgia. It's AMAZING that he thought to call HOME in the first place. Caller ID notes that he tried to reach us 6 times while we were at church. I guess he forgot about the 3-hour time difference.

My parents looked like angels to me today. They came in dressed for church - Mom had a pretty white blouse on and Dad had on his white Sunday shirt. With his snow white hair, I thought of heaven! They were in the congregation, too, when I led the Sunday hymns this morning. I broke down and sobbed during the sacramental hymn: "I Stand All Amazed." There I stood hiding in my fluffy wig, inadequate in every way as the hymn's strains spoke the absolute truth:
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died."
I am AMAZED that He loved me enough to atone for my sins. I know that He has prepared a way for me - for all of us - to return to live with Him again. My inconveniences are just temporary, but He'll help me through them. Amazing!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Hair is still coming out. Lois said 2-3 weeks, Teresa said 2 weeks...that's how long they waited before shaving it all off! My hair (scalp) actually hurts - like when you've pulled it up into a tight pony tail and then after being up all day, letting it out... ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Lois also mentioned that chemo causes your memory to falter. That will be a good thing when it comes to some of these side effects.

I ordered some ST37 - an oral rinse that Mom discovered while living in Tooele, Utah. Lots of folks there use it for cankers, etc. My mouth is dry and mouth sores are due to attack soon, I know that will be on my list of forgettable side effects. I've started chewing gum to help my dry mouth, too, (so if you mistake me for a cow chewing its cud, you'll know what I'm up to.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Losing Hair

June 24, 2008
My hair started falling out this morning. I was lounging around talking with Mom and reached up to brush some hair out of my face and instead came up with a handful of maybe 30. Each time I tugged, I got that many more. AAAAAGH. This wasn’t supposed to happen until the third treatment – and I just had the second one yesterday. I cried. Mom cried with me. My sister called and we all three cried!

I finally got up and dressed and we went to get my hair cut. It’s shorter – like a guy's. I sobbed through it all. Lisa, the hairdresser was so sweet! She comforted me. When it was all off, she suggested we add some color – PINK! I agreed. Then Heather wanted pink hair and even Mom got some pink. Mom and I just have a touch. I might go back to get more done, but I’m not sure how long there will be hair to color… it might all disappear this week.

Next we stopped at Fred Meyers and checked out the hats. I found two identical ones that I’m in love with. One is light beige, the other red. Heather calls them “newsies” hats. I guess I’ll wear them around when I don’t want to do the wig thing…

June 25th -
8:00pm I've only been awake a couple of hours today. We got some cherries at a place on tenth avenue. I love them, but only ate a few. Too much work. I'm too cold. Too sleepy. My hair hurts. I've been a bawl baby today. (Stephen called tonight. He's in Atlanta, GA on his way to Ft. Benning (sp?) He says it's hot. I'm NOT bawling about him being gone, in case you wondered. It's nice and quiet around here now. Biggest discussion going on is whose turn it is to read the last Stephanie Meyers book that Lorna lent us...)

Friday, June 20, 2008


I've read a lot about cancer lately. Many authors have expressed the notion that stress either causes or accelerates cancer growth. So, is it like Mr. Steed, my high school chemistry teacher, told us: "Living causes cancer"? Maybe it does, but stress is such a part of life! Good stress. Bad stress. Like, right now I have these stressors in my life:

1) Stephen is getting ready to leave for boot camp. His plane leaves Monday @6:30pm
2) Max's back is hurting him from laying carpet for the last couple of nights - after working all day
3) We are short a vehicle since Stephen wrecked our Taurus last week - Max is planning to look into assessing the damage tomorrow (Saturday)
4) Our vacuum died this week (Max is going to fix the cord on that tomorrow, too)
5) "Hunter" doggy got neutered 2 days ago (Taija's doggy, "Girlfriend," was spayed a couple months ago) but they're still cavorting around and as Mom Harward put it, "putting on an x-rated show for us all day long" (Maybe the vet didn't do the job right? Maybe it takes a few weeks to tone down the hormones?)
6) The vet's prognoses on our kitty Monday: fleas. So we had to treat her and the dogs and wash and sanitize every surface and every stitch of bedding in the house, etc. etc. etc. etc.
7) Our septic system is misbehaving - again - and probably needs replacing soon (do you think we could shower at the playground's water park?)
8) My (Type I) diabetes is really messed up big time with chemo - BG #'s topping at 300's - 500's and...
9) chemo therapy #2 (who has time for this?) is Monday at 10:30am - I get nauseated just thinking about it... (but Tracy and Teresa are planning to come and visit me then, so that should make it easier!)

I don't know if getting rid of all of the above would have changed anything. I might get bored if things weren't crazy all the time. I'd have to make up something to get attention - like, you know, get cancer or something.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

I've felt so good the past two days! Yesterday we ran a bajillion errands: Got Mom and Heather new cell phones, picked up a carpet stretcher for Max, took the dog in to get 'fixed'... Got a new plecostemus (algae eater) for our aquarium (I had been searching for one that was the RIGHT size...)

Today we cleaned out the garage and took 5 boxes and a couple of bags of stuff to St. Vincent's. We took a few boxes there yesterday, too. Today's donations were some of Kyle's toys (shhhhhhh, don't tell!) I got exhausted and sweaty after a couple of hours' work.. which led to a nausea episode... which led to a tearful breakdown. I hate feeling out of control!

After a rest (sorting Kyle's toys and reading part of Stephanie Meyers' second vampire novel) I felt much better. I went out after dinner and trimmed some roses until I was caught and ordered back inside. (Without much of an immune system, I'm not supposed to garden in case I get scratched and infected....) I need to remember my cousin Carol's advice. She's a breast cancer survivor of 20 years - she told me that during her chemo she didn't get out much, just kept close to home and nurtured herself. I just have such a bad habit of wanting to do EVERYTHING. Sigh....

Max has almost finished installing the last of the carpet. Now all our bedrooms are redone. They look NICE. But, I hope that the new carpet smell is gone by next Monday (chemo #2) when I know the smell will drive me crazy! (Carrin Rhoten called me last night to offer her husband's carpet-laying skills. That was soooo nice of her! I get cards and calls so often and I love everyone's warm thoughts and prayers.)

p.s. Wore my wig yesterday. It eventually fell off... I DEFINTELY need more practice!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday again

I've survived to tell about one more day. I said a SWEAR WORD in my head on Saturday about this chemo therapy stuff. It's bad news! I have a week before I have to go back in again. I'm afraid I'll be kicking and screaming all the way....

On a good note, I didn't get nauseated today until after 1:30. We went to the store even. That was fun to get out of the house. The kids are officially "out of school for the summer." Stephen leaves for basic training next Sunday... Jacob and Taija have summer school starting tomorrow. Heather works nights, so she sleeps during the day. It will just be Kyle, Mom and Me at home most of the time!

The genetic counselor called me on Friday. She told me that the tests came back and I am BRCA1 & BRCA2 negative. That is good, since it means I don't have the hereditary mutation. We both expressed surprise since I told her of two more cancers I've realized in my family... a cousin with breast cancer and my dad's colon cancer. She said that she would call me about another testing that came out last year.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More foggy weather

I think it's Saturday. So, yesterday (no, I didn't go in to work) I spent 4 hours at the cancer center. I was dehydrated and had to be given IV fluids (that takes 2 hours.) I have been given strict orders to take the anti nausea medication on schedule regardless of how I feel at the moment. (Thurs. and Friday mornings I felt okay until about 10am, so I didn't take the medications until it was too late.....)

My brother-in-law Wayne - the pharmacist - warned me ahead of time that chemo would be hard on me for two reasons: 1) I'm female. We don't do so well in the nausea department and 2) I'm Mormon. Mormons don't drink or smoke and therefore their bodies aren't accustomed to being "poisoned" and hence the nausea would be unaccustomed. ha! the joke is on me.

Really, though, this nausea is obnoxious. Smells, thoughts, pictures, situations all make it worse..... I'm sure that I will be the envy of my weight watchers companions.. I'm down several pounds. Mom is being my guardian angel - nurturing me with whatever I might be able to keep down (Sprite, spaghetti, grapes!) Stephen had an accident on Tuesday and our car has to be replaced - all the talk about "what to do" and "what kind of car do we want?" also makes me nauseated...... bleah! bleah! bleah!

The CT scan results were revealed yesterday amongst all the waiting around. They state that my lungs are great! my bones are great! My liver and spleen are great! My stomach and abdomen are great! Apparently, there are just some lymph nodes in my left armpit where the other cancerous ones were that are showing abnormal. The chemo & radiation are supposed to take care of them..... I will get another CT scan when the chemo is done.

Meanwhile, back to my fog......

Thursday, June 12, 2008 nauseum.....

I've been in a fog the past couple of days. Tuesday my blood sugars were non-stop HIGH. No amount of insulin helped! I changed my basal settings on my insulin pump to help cope. Carol Hansen brought us over some dinner. It was wonderful and very well-timed. Lorna Mikkelsen brought me a novel to read!

Yesterday...., I remember getting phone calls from a half-dozen people wishing me well (don't ask me who just yet, I'll have to think about it.) Other than that, I was nauseated and had to keep up on the anti-nausea medications which made me sleep... Unfortunately, I'm taking more anti-nausea medications today. It is so unpredictable!!!!! I've taken another day off from work. Only two more school days left 'til school is out.

I go in for these treatments every two weeks. Eight treatments altogether. Then, I will do radiation when that is finished. Radiation is every weekday for about 6 weeks. Tomorrow I will find out more about the elusive CT scan results.
I think that the doctors must love keeping their patients in suspense!

Monday, June 9, 2008

June 9th 1st Chemo appointment

We made it in from the blustery weather (been this way since January) to the Cancer Center at 9:00 am sharp. We had discussed being late and wondering if they'd reschedule my appointment (like 2 weeks ago), but no such luck. We arrived on time... and waited almost 25 minutes staring at the aquarium.

Mom and I were taken to my own little room. Walls were decorated with pretty quilts. A chair, IV stand and tray added furniture to the room. The focal point was a brown vinyl recliner. It was very comfortable.

Nurse Leila checked my vitals and swabbed my port site. Told me not to breathe on the site since it needs to stay sterile. I wrapped myself up in the cozy blankie Aunt Marilyn sent me (Yes! I remember to feel her hugs everytime I put it on!) Leila started up the IV and flushed me with saline solution both before and after the treatment. First into the IV was more saline (clear), next up was some Kytril - a clear solution that is an anti-nausea medicine. I'll take the pill form twice a day for several more days (as well as Emend (aprepitant) once a day and Phenergan (promethazine) every 6 hours if I still feel sick.

Next in the IV was THE CHEMO. The first drug was red. It was called Doxyrubicin, also known as Adriamycin. This IV took about 15 minutes. When it beeped, they replaced it with the Cytoxan (clear). This one took about 1/2 hour or more. I had watched a video for first time patients and then Nurse Leila talked to me about the side effects of both drugs. She told me to stay away from crowds (school??) because my white blood cells (among numerous other things) are killed off or stopped being produced during chemo.

I didn't feel very different during this time. My chest got tight during the first chemo drug, I got woozy at the end of the second one. Then I was finished. Voila! No problems. So far I have no green skin, purple fur or horns. I understand it's the 3rd day (Wednesday) that I may experience some problems. It took about 2 hours or less. I was surprised. I'd heard that it was much longer.

I go back tomorrow for a Neulasta (sp?) shot to build up my white bood count. And, my diabetes went wacky tonight. I have to keep tabs on it since it apparently goes HIGH after chemo treatment. I must finish drinking my 3 quarts of water, too. (Only 2 more to go.)

Teresa from school called and checked up on me while Mom and I were at Highland Health Food Store (we went there following my appointment.) She called again later. What an angel to be so caring! We called several people to tell them the good news. I know that all the many prayers and Max and Dad's blessing me yesterday and Dad Rickords' special prayer at the family get together made this possible!

On a scale of 1-10, I now feel like an..... 8 (headache and touch of nausea which might be from the high blood sugar. Also, hot flashes every so often. Whine..whine..whine....)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pampering Ourselves at Spring Break

We spent a week in Utah at Spring Break (April) Tifiny treated us to this pedicure experience - my first. It was so much fun!!!!!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday the 6th of June

Tracy kept Sherry and I laughing today on the transit (city) bus. We were taking our Life Skills (handicapped) students out in the community as we do every school morning for a couple of hours. The boys were asleep for most of the journey. Tracy told us about her experiences growing up Catholic and attending Catholic school. I laughed so hard about her "confessions" that I cried! It did us good to laugh:)

We had a "graduation" party for our Life Skill's sole graduating senior today. After feeding my student his cake and ice cream, I left. Lots of tears on my part later, wondering if I'll make it back for the last week of school. I have planned to take Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off next week. (School doesn't get out until the 16th here - due to all our "snow days.") I am wondering how the chemo will affect me... The wig shop staff indicated that patients come in looking "green" or "ashy"... Speaking of which, I need to call the wig shop because I saw their number on my caller id.

Went to nephew Jonathon's graduation tonight. He was salutatorian and gave a great speech.

Other notes: My sloshing and leaking appears to have quit. But, I am lumpy and bumpy all over. (Teresa said that she told her doctor that she looks like a road map with all her scars. I am starting to feel the same - but this is one map that feels like it's been left out and run over by a bus. Time for bed.)

p.s. Tonight after the graduation, my sister-in-law and I were discussing the benefits of losing your hair. We decided that 1) I will be "cooler" in the summer. 2) I will keep the sunscreen products in business as I cover my baldness daily. And 3) I definitely won't have to worry about getting head lice from anyone!

"In every thing give thanks" 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I survived the CT scan this afternoon. Mom picked me up at school and chauffered me to Kadlec. The worst part was drinking the pina colada-flavored gloop every hour leading up to the procedure. It didn't hurt to have them use my port to insert the iodine. At least now I know that it works.

Good News:

I've stopped "leaking" (I had to be on my back Sat & Sun due to that un-fun episode.)

Today I went to Weight Watchers and found that I've lost 1.6 lbs. For a total of 20.6 lbs since February. I use the "Core" plan which is just plain healthy eating - fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat meats.... I've eaten umpteen pounds of strawberries the last few months. Yum.

Mom bought me a beautiful nightshirt. I love it. Pink, embroidered, lacy... She always knows how to make me feel special. I LOVE having her here. Dad is fun, too. He told us last night that his father's favorite song was "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine" by Gene Autry. We found it on the internet and listened to it a few times! I love laughing with him and discovering all these treasured nuggets.

Tifiny told me that her two-year-old Justin prays for me: "Aunt Lisa. Aunt Lisa. Aunt Lisa. Amen." Now you know why I'm doing so well!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chemo is Served....

Set my first chemo appointment for next Monday (June 9th) at 9am. Can't wait. NOT! I think of the second-to-the-last Harry Potter book where Harry is feeding Dumbledore that gross potion and Dumbledore is begging him to stop. That will be me! Aaaaagh. Dr. Chenal will prescribe 3 anti-nausea medications for me before I go in. That makes it scarier! I decided not to participate in the clinical trials.

Tomorrow I have my CAT scan at 2pm. They should know the results of that next Monday.