Thursday, October 30, 2008

CT results

Yesterday was Heather's birthday and after my appointment with Dr. Chenal (and a blood draw) and my radiation we went to the county courthouse and applied for our passports. We're headed nowhere, but just want them. It was her birthday gift from me. I was completely worn out from all of the above (and a low-blood sugar episode to boot) so I sent Heather out to buy her own cake and ice cream and to bring pizza home for us. She was okay with that. I had to weep a while thinking of how I couldn't even manage birthday trappings for my girl.

At my appointment yesterday, I whined to Dr. Chenal that my fingernails are all warped and my toes have been numb for two weeks. He just looked at me and said, "But you're done with chemo! Aren't you glad?" Oh, yeah. I forgot to be glad. Shame on me. I am glad, actually.

He said that the CT scan showed that my lymph nodes have shrunk and there is nothing abnormal about them and that the blood tests were great, too. So, I just have to go back in January and every 3 months for a couple of years. (I still have radiation every afternoon until December 3rd.) And, the radiation reduces my chances of cancer recurrence from 30% to 2%, so I guess I'm glad about that, too.

My hair? Take a look at your arm. That's what my scalp looks like... pale hair all around. It's darker at my sideburns. (For the passport photos and signing, I wore my wig, hope that isn't illegal.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

PINK week

Wednesday I got a CT scan of my chest area - I should know the results of that next Wednesday when I meet with Dr. Chenal. And, I've survived a full week and two days of radiation. The only part that feels irritated is my upper arm - and the technicians say that it isn't even getting zapped. Silly arm! I started taking off my insulin pump during treatments because even though they say it isn't in an area that gets zapped, I'm not completely convinced anymore.

(Look at the center of this photo. Do you see that tall fellow wearing what looks like a white T-shirt? That's our Jacob!)
The high schools have been having the kids wear pink this week in support of breast cancer awareness. Wednesday, on my way to radiation I saw part of the 3-mile-long link of students (from Kamiakin to Southridge) who showed their support by forming a human chain between the two schools. I tried to get my own photos, but a guy behind me was yelling to keep moving... so, these photos are from the Tri-City Herald. The one below is of one of Kamiakin's attendance secretaries who was also out supporting the chain - a very nice lady:

I went at half time last night to the football game between Kamiakin and Southridge. They presented a check for $15,000 to the Cancer Center - money the schools had raised this week.
The football players had pink ribbons on their helmets. The marching band and color guard were wearing pink shirts. Taija is in Southridge's color guard and I got some photos of her before heading out. (Max was patiently waiting for me in the parking lot.)

(That's our Taija out in front!)
I still get weepy. Don't know why. I got a spell during my radiation yesterday. Had to hold still while tears flowed. I tried to distract myself by counting the screws on the radiation equipment. 18.

Kamiakin's office ladies tried to convince me a couple days ago to apply for leave sharing and take time off work to get to feeling better. I am really trying to get some energy back so that I can do this job and take care of my family. It's a slow road, but I think bit by bit I'm coming along. I try to get some rest after school, but the kids always need to be somewhere.

When I have the energy, I've read the "Number 1 Ladies Detective" series by Alexander McCall-Smith. They are a lot of fun and easy reading. I also am trying to piece back together what I had started on my BYU Bachelor of General Studies class last March.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Radiation #3 of 30

Been really tired this past week. I couldn't stay for all of church yesterday and I nap every day for several hours. That's what I get for being a slug all summer! I blamed part of this weakness on the radiation, but apparently, the "tiredness" doesn't kick in for almost 3 weeks. Carol brought over dinner for us on Saturday - what a terrific marvelous surprise!!!

I didn't realize that I'm supposed to be 1/2 hour early to my radiation appointments on Mondays. Dr. Rege and her nurse saw me today before my treatment. Everything looks good so far. Have to put Aloe Vera gel on my radiated site twice a day. I hadn't been doing that. They gave me a pink bag for breast cancer awareness month. And a bracelet that someone had made. Really pretty!!

One of the radiation computers was down today, so I waited over an hour for my treatment. Once I got in there, I was zapped 6 times. Same as before. The radiation tech (or whatever his title is) told me that the rays are x-rays and we had a discussion about how "long" the zaps are and why... Pretty technical stuff.

The kids at Kamiakin and Southridge are doing a "Link" on Wednesday. They're going to make a chain of people from one school to the other. Taija tells me that they need 3,600 people to make the distance. Volunteers are welcome! All this is to raise awareness of breast cancer.

I'm still confused as to why breast cancer gets all the attention over other cancers. A lady tried to explain to me today that it's because breast cancer is very invasive and causes so many deaths. I will have to research this.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Started Radiation!

It's been an exhausting week being back at work. And my eyes have been running! I promise I'm not crying! At least not today. After work Monday I was very emotional and cried for two hours. Not really sure why - just over-tired, I guess.

Monday, I also got a digital mammogram - they take much longer than regular ones. After being kneaded, squished, and rayed, the technician showed the results to the doctor. After a bit, she returned with Dr. Weighall in tow. I thought for sure if he was showing up, the news must be bad, but no: things looked great!

Wednesday, after work, I went to the Cancer Center and got marked up again and x-rayed. This was their final check before radiation started - which began today.

Every day now after work until December 3rd I'll go in to the cancer center, put a hospital top on, lie down on a table, get lined up according to my tattoos, then lay there for about 8 minutes. The hardest part is not getting to move! I can't even itch my nose!! I try to concentrate on looking at all the colorful ceiling tiles - yesterday's room had some from Kennewick High. This room today had a sign that its tiles were from the boys and girls clubs. They had lots of "Be Happy" phrases everywhere. So, I took their advice and am. Just tired, though.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

He's back....

Stephen made it home last night from boot camp. We picked him up at the airport about 8:30. He's turned into a regular gentleman. At home he asked permission to open the fridge and get something to eat. I can get used to this!

Kyle and Dad made it back from boy scout camp a few minutes ago. It must have been cold. Kyle had on 3 coats and said he cried this morning. (Just like us here at home with the thermostat not working properly.)

I am getting myself ready to start back to work on Monday. My emotions are swinging around like a trapeze artist. Dr. Chenal's office didn't get back with me (I gave them notice on Wednesday) about the note I need saying I'm healthy enough to return to work. I guess I'll have to get that Monday after work and after my mamogram at Kadlec.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Six months now

Watched Conference this past weekend. Last time it was Conference - six months ago - the kids and I were in Salt Lake watching it in person. And this cancer was just a mystery lump that was most likely just "a cyst." I still don't look at it as being so horrible. Somehow in the past few years I've managed to survive knee, back and wrist surgeries, a hysterectomy and a broken leg. I've learned to manage my Type I diabetes throughout it all as well. And now this taxotere routine is miserably predictable; but Taija pointed out that it's Almost Over! I need to be reminded frequently as I wade through the next few days of aches and pain, nasty taste buds, ugly fingernails and sluggish sleep.....

Friday, I went to the radiation side of the cancer center. Larry the Simulation Guy took me back to a room that had colorful ceiling tiles (courtesy of one of our middle schools) where I got my photo taken, reversed my gown - ooops - and waited for Dr. Rege to come. She drew all over me with a black marker - up my neck, down my side, around my chest, etc. Larry taped wires over the markings and made a template, then put me through a CT scan... and got more photos (aaagh!) Finally, he daubed ink at the top and middle of my chest and on either side, then poked the areas with a needle - my tattoos! (No, he wouldn't do hearts or smiley faces...) In a week or so they'll call and set up my radiation times.

Next Monday I'll be back at work. Oh, boy! Wish I had my hair back, though. The nurses said to expect some fluff in a couple months. I can't wait! (A side note: My super-de-duper insurance has an exclusion about wigs.... they won't pay for the one I bought last spring.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Last Chemo!

The nurses sang!

Just got home - after 5pm. Sharel took me to chemo at 9am. What a sweetie! It was A LONG day! It's my own fault, though. I finished chemo at 1:30pm - which I knew would be the case and then I had a 3:30 appointment with the Dr. Rege about my radiation which was in the same building. I had decided ahead of time to just hang out there for the duration. I will see her again on Friday. I had asked earlier if I could hang out in "my chair" until my second appointment. It worked out okay. I read and napped. Then Heather took me home. And I've FINISHED chemo!

Afterwards, the nurses sang, "For she's a jolly good fellow..." and gave me a card and a bottle of sparkling cider! They are so good to me.

With my personal chemo nurses - Laela and Gloria

I found out that I'm not "finished" with them yet, though. I meet with Dr. Chenal in 4 weeks. (Have a CT scan in 3 weeks to see how the cancer looks.) I'll have more labs then and then I have to go in every 4-6 weeks to get my port flushed. They will leave that in for about a year. (As I've noted before, I Do Not Like my port!) I didn't realize there would be on-going care. It made me weepy to think of all this additional "stuff."

And that isn't all the "stuff." Dr. Rege wants me to have a mammogram (I'm doing it at Kadlec in 2 weeks) and more blood work and the appointment on Friday is for the "simulation." I think that means I'll start with them making forms, etc. I'm supposed to begin radiation within 2 weeks. That will be daily for 6 weeks. (The side effects will mainly be skin burn and tiredness. I think I can deal with that! Chemo is supposed to be much worse than radiation.)