Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Whole Lot of Info

Before I start updating, a comment about this photo. My friend, Elaine, took this beautiful sunset harvest photo. You can't imagine how it tugs at my heart. I haven't seen anything like this since last year and it makes me yearn for the smells, sights, sounds and feel of harvest. Thanks, Elaine. **sniff sniff**

Kevin and I are back from a lengthy meeting with the Radiology Oncologist. I have been mistakenly referring to him as the Radiologist but we've been corrected. He was very personable and informative. He took pains and time to explain things very clearly.

I now know that radiation is a given no matter what kind of surgery I have next. The reason for that is because of the unusual sequence of my treament ... surgery to chemo to surgery to radiation. With the chemo having been between the two surgeries, there will be no way of knowing, after the second surgery, the level of radiation that will be required so, as my Radiology Oncologist explained, it means going into it with unknowns and so they will have to use the "big guns" when, in reality, the "big guns" might be overkill. But we can't take that risk. That means I'll be having radiation to the breast or chest wall (depending on the type of surgery I have) as well as the armpit (where the additional lymp nodes will be removed) and the neck (where there are lymph nodes as well). I understand the why of this treatment plan thanks to his clear explanations, which go into much more detail than I'm explaining here. If you have any questions, just ask me. I meet with my surgeon on Monday, October 19. After that I will know what kind of surgery I'll be having and, hopefully, will have a surgery date.

As my Radiation Oncologist explains it, if there were 100 women in a room who all have the same type and size of tumour as me and we all go through the same treatment plan, about 20 of us will get a recurrence within the next 5 years. Without the radiation, that number would be closer to 25. These are all very general numbers and percentages, of course. Still, it gives some idea of the possibility of success of this year's worth of treatments. One can only continue to hope and take care of oneself as best as possible. Addendum: Kevin heard the numbers a little differently. He heard that, with radiation, the odds improve so that only 10-12 out of 100 women will have a recurrence. Somehow we heard this differently. I don't who is correct but I like the sound of what he heard much better.

Another thing I'll have to be on the alert for and exert as much preventative action as possible is lymphedema. The odds of getting lymphedema after my second surgery and radiation treatments are typically 30 out of 100 women. My odds might be slightly higher because of my propensity for fluid retention as a reaction to both Advil and Taxotere. Even if one is diligent about trying to prevent lymphedema, it doesn't mean all those preventative measures will work. You can still get it months or even years after treatment and, once you get it, there is no getting rid of it. Bummer. I'll just have to do my best with skin care, targeted exercises and probably a compression sleeve.

I'm sure turning into a puff ball and, naturally, gaining weight with all this fluid I'm retaining. I can feel the tightness in my abdomen now, too. I just started taking the lasix and hopefully that will help somewhat. Just add "elephant ankles" to my several other monikers, which include but is not limited to "moon face" and "buffalo hump".

Oh, and by the way, during the long conversation with the Radiology Oncologist, at one point I marveled at myself for not getting all blubbery. Early on in this game, I couldn't meet with anyone without getting teary at some point. Of course, just as I thought about it and as we were getting into questions about side effects from radiation and possible long term implications, wouldn't you know that my eyes started to well up. Fortunately, right after that started, there was an interruption in the conversation and I had a few minutes to regroup and I was fine after that. It's just a whole new part of treatment I'm going into and, I must say, it's been a long day at the Champion Centre today and I could feel myself starting to tire toward the end of the last medical meeting.

Time to raise my feet to the sky. So much for the laundry, bedding changes and the dishwashing I was going to do. Sorry Mom.


Drugs, Drugs and More Drugs

We're just home from this morning's appointment with my oncologist. We dropped off new prescriptions for filling on the way home.

For the edema, I'll be taking a diuretic ... lasix, I think it's called. It is expected that the edema will probably continue and might even get a little worse before it gets better. It's a reaction to the taxotere.

For the finger and feet numbness and the face burns, I'm being prescribed prednisone. It's another steroid and will probably cause an even rounder face than I developed on the previous steroids. Oh, joy! I'll be taking that for two weeks after I finish my 3 days of deximethasone (another steroid), which I started taking this morning. Follow this prednisone link and scroll down to see the list of side effects. Frick! Though I don't think any of us would mind experiencing "inappropriate happiness"! How funny is that?! That's the one side effect I hope I get!

My oncologist is also reducing the taxotere dosage by 10% in order to, perhaps, minimize some of the "full-blown" (as he called it) side effects.

And, sadly, I won't be getting my PICC-line removed tomorrow. My oncologist feels it's best to leave it in for use during my next surgery. He suggests I ask my surgeon if he would like the PICC-line left in. If my surgeon doesn't plan on using it, I can then get it removed. I'm glad I didn't really get my heart set on having my PICC-line removed tomorrow. I had hoped, but hadn't yet expected, making the disappointment less than it would have been otherwise.

My oncologist will be leaving Saskatoon in 3 or 4 weeks for a new position in Arkansas. I've been very happy with him as an oncologist and am glad that he will, at least, have been here to see me through my entire chemo treatment. I'll be meeting with him again before he leaves to talk about the estrogen blocker, tamoxifen, that I'm to take for the next 5 years. Mine is the most common type of invasive breast cancer in that it's estrogen fed. That's why there will be continued effort to block estrogen. And that is why I wish there was some knowledge made available about preventing this type of cancer by better monitoring and balancing hormones in the first place. From what I understand, estrogen only really becomes a problem when other hormones aren't balancing it, allowing estrogen to become "dominant". Thats when things go whacky.

This afternoon I have my first appointment with a radiologist. I have no idea what to expect. I'll update us all later.

I'm sure missing the warm weather. I suppose cool weather had to come eventually. Bah!


Off To See The Wizard

Ankles still elephantish but not so much as yesterday. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Luke is Running for the Cure in Louisville, Kentucky!

Just in case anyone wants to sponsor Luke, who is running for the cure in Louisville, Kentucky with the Bellarmine University Lacrosse Team, you can donate here.


How appropriate on such a windy day! How Laurel got them here without them blowing away can only be attributed to hairspray!! Aren't they pretty? Thanks, Laurel. I'll bet you had these in the house during your farm girl days, too, right? And thanks for the stack of magazines. As tempted as I am to tie into them right now, I'm going to save them for the down and dirty days of sofa solidarity to come. I'm sorry I missed you when you stopped by. I was home put "indisposed" at the time.

I also missed you, too, Cheryl, for the same reason. You would not have wanted to see me at the door under the circumstances. Trust me. Thanks for returning the camping gear and for the choco-croissanty things. Yummy! My tastebuds are temporarily returned and so now is the only time I'll be able to enjoy chocolate for a while. I'm glad to hear that Alexa's birthday t-shirt arrived and that she's happy with it.

I had planned on running out today to do a few things but my even puffier lower limbs kept me feeling sluggish. My legs are tight as sausages and my toes look like a series of little memory sticks ready to be unplugged from my piggy-pop feet. I'm awkward on the stairs because my ankles are so tight they don't bend properly and my legs are so tightly packed that there was no graceful way out of the tub. Good grief!! Why now?? This is a question for my oncologist tomorrow, I guess.

And soon, your plumpness will recline with feet pointed to the ceiling while watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Such is the life of a chemo princess.


Who's Trippin' Down The Streets of the City ...?

... everyone knows it's Windy!

I woke up several times in the night to the sound of howling wind! Nasty!

Two days until chemo. Tomorrow I have three medical appointments at the Champion Centre.
1. Bloodwork - a.m.
2. Meet with Oncologist - a.m.
3. Meet with Radiologist - p.m.
I'm not really sure why I'm meeting with the Radiologist yet and what that will entail. As I understand it, I'm to have surgery before radiation and I don't think radiation can start until 6 weeks after surgery. Oh well, I guess we'll find out what that's all about.

Though it's early to tell for sure, I think I feel pretty good this morning. Hopefully I can get some things done today and tomorrow afternoon in preparation for the days when I'll feel like total crap. There are some house chores that have been neglected and a couple of outside errands to do. I'm a little nervous about going out in the wind. What if my wig blows off my head? Yikes!!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Evening Update

These are the flowers we have that open and close with the sun. Through Nora I've learned that these are called "Osteospermums". They come in different colours, too.

Today again, I'm a little short on va-va-voom. Sad. I had hoped to be doing more at this time. Nonetheless, I did go out today to run an important errand. My Macbook's network connection failed AGAIN yesterday. One minute it was working one minute and the next minute ... gone. I had to take it to the help desk at the University where it took over an hour for them to figure out what was wrong and, even now, they're not really sure of the what and why but they did get it working. For some reason some file is randomly corrupting all by itself. At any rate, they got it working. I needed to get it fixed before chemo. I've learned that not having my computer is bad for me.

I also marvel at how very weak I am. I almost had to stop and take a moment walking from the arts building to my car and it wasn't very far, though I did have to climb a couple flights of stairs and the walk to the car was uphill. Still ... And then, I stopped briefly at the grocery store on Clarence and 12th to pick up a couple of items and I could hardly find the strength to get the door open when I left. Somebody should kick sand in my face while they can get away with it! I really can't wait to get through the next month and then start a fitness routine.

My tasebuds have grown back temporarily. Unlike last time, though, it hasn't incited in me a need to gorge on everything I like. Not yet, anyway. Panic might set in still. My fingertips and the bottoms of my feet are still numb and also, in the past few days, I've had some edema (water retention). As with the numbness, I'm really surprised that it would start this late after my chemo injection. Edema is a common side effect of taxotere and taking steroids before, during, and after treatment is meant to hold it at bay along with nausea and allergic reactions. Maybe the steroids stay in the system longer than I imagine. I know it's not normal water retention because my ankles are still swollen when I wake up in the morning. I'm probably holding on to about 3-5 pounds worth of excess fluids. I'll discuss it with my oncologist when I meet with him on Wednesdady. Maybe it's contributing to my feeling blah.
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Hannah as Muse

This piece is called "The Hush I Let Go" by Graeme Berglund and is on display at the Douglas Udell Gallery in Vancouver.

I don't yet know the story behind how this came to be but you can bet I would love to have it on my wall!

Here's the link to the bigger photo.

Note: The story behind this set of paintings is that Hannah was downtown in Vancouver and a guy asked if he could take some photos of her and use them for a painting. And that was that. It was quite a while ago, Hannah said.


Happy Birthday, BonBon!

I was very disappointed to miss Bonnie's birthday party last night. I hope you were surprised, Bonnie, and that you had a great time! Happy Birthday! This is photo of Bonnie from last month's splurge party.

Yesterday, I just felt ... I don't know ... just not very good, though I can't even really put a finger on what didn't feel good. It wasn't sleepy tired but just ... weary all over. A total lack of energy, both physically and mentally. I felt that way Saturday, too. Very disappointing since I've been anticipating feeling good for these last days before my LAST CHEMO TREATMENT on Thursday.

I don't feel so energetic today, either. But maybe a little better. I just had a nice, long conversation with Hannah and that must be making me feel better. It's so nice that we both had the luxury of time during the day to talk. Mondays are a free day for her, not that she doesn't have lots to do regardless.

We were able to talk to Luke a couple of times on the weekend, too. He's participating in the Run for the Cure next weekend in Louisville along with almost all of his lacrosse team. On Friday they had the first of what might become an annual event where they play lacrosse against the women's Division I team from the University of Louisville. The catch is that they play with women's equipment and women's rules, which is a real change for the boys. The women's lacrosse sticks don't have pockets so the boys were forever losing the ball. In the end it was a tie-game, which was appropriate in a battle of the sexes. I guess it was a well-attended charity event, they had a lot of fun, met some new people, and raised money for a young girl with a brain tumour.

Hannah and I were discussing the differences between Bellarmine University, where Luke is, and UBC, where Hannah is. I must say that I'm particularly impressed with the way Bellarmine supports the whole student from the start of their freshman year and straight through. UBC, like all large Canadian Universities, basically expects students to make it or break it on their own. There's not really much support or guidance. Not much willingness to help students find success, where the opposite seems to be true at Bellarmine. I don't think all of the differences can be attributed to the vast difference in sizes of the two institutions. I think it's largely due to different philosophies.

And now, I really must do some things. I don't know what yet ... but something productive.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It Was A Boob-A-Fest!

Here. A platter of various kripsie boobs from last night's Boob-A-Q! Hilarious! Thanks, Alyssa, for the fun idea and the work you, Helena, and your Mom and Dad put into this awesome fund-raising event. It was really fun and great to see everyone there. We sure had some laughs. I hardly saw Ross because he was mostly outside managing the barbeque end of things. But soon we were all inside, eating and watching the Rider game in the kitchen. Carol led us in the wave and I must say, it was VERY effective even if we weren't masses of people in a stadium. Go Riders!!

I thought this was a particularly good photo of the two Affleck girls: Alyssa, who lives here in Saskatoon and Helena, who is just visiting from Lethbridge for the weekend. They're standing in front of their handiwork.

This is Carol demonstrating where the boobs would naturally sit on her and where they would now naturally sit on me.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

BOOB-A-Q! hahahahahaha ...

These are the same as the yellow flowers I posted yesterday. They are so perfectly pretty. I love the many variations they come in. Yes, Terresa Ann, these are Gazanias. We have Osteospermums (Cape Daisies), too, Nora. I looked them up on the internet so I could correctly identify them. They also open and close with the sun. I'll post a photo of them tomorrow.

I slept well last night. I was soooo tired after such a busy day. I don't feel quite so energetic today so I might just relax a bit and take it slow. An afternoon nap might be in order. Maybe a movie.

Tonight I have a BOOB-A-Q to attend! Another social event! I'm really looking forward to it so I'd better rest up. Every time I hear or see BOOB-A-Q, I laugh. Every time, Alyssa. I hope it doesn't rain.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I deserve to be really tired tonight. I had a very full day.  See? I even baked cookies.  The first baking I've done since all of this nightmare began.  It's a new to me cookie recipe.  It calls for vanilla pudding.  Kevin says they're good.

I swept floors and tidied this and that around the house. I listened to loud music all day.  Music has always been important to me but I've hardly listened to music at all while I've been home going through chemo.  Rather than changing my mood, music typically just enhances the mood I'm already in, so today was a perfect music today.  I did a lot of singing.  We went to Avacado's for dinner tonight and Kevin's parents joined us.  Ron and Patty joined us for drinks (cranberry and soda for me).  Very nice to be OUT!!  

We then stopped in for a while at Katelyn's housewarming party.  She has a beautiful little home and it's so fashionably decorated and, of course, Katelyn is a charming hostess.  She learned a lot from her parents!  While there we also enjoyed seeing Avery, Daisy, Wendy, and Sandra.  Sadly, we had just missed Kayla and Gillian.  We didn't stay long because I was getting very tired and experiencing a little hearburn.  But it was all worth it.  
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I'm Very Touched

This is what my neighbour's Mom, Pam, just dropped off for me.  She, herself, is a 5 year survivor and she participates in the annual relay for life in Regina. Every year the relay committee sends thank you cards to survivors and this year they sent stones carved with "hope" and asked that they be passed on to other recently diagnosed women as a sign of hope.  And Pam thought to pass hers and and this little gift package on to me, even though she hardly knows me at all.  How thoughtful of her. I'm very touched.  

I'll look forward to savouring these Bernard Callebaut pops when I grow my tastebuds back.  They're not to be wasted on a tasteless tongue.  

Thanks so much for the message of hope, Pam!
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Cloistered but Feeling Fiiiiine!

I don't know what these flowers are called but they keep on blooming. They come in various colours and some are richly variegated. They open when the sun shines and close up when it doesn't.

I had a better sleep last night, thanks for asking! And I feel pretty good today. I'll still stay housebound during the day to spare my poor face but I'll emerge in the night to stop by at Katelyn's house warming party.

As for what I'll do today ... who knows ... hmmmm ... the house is my oyster!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living The Vampire Way

I had a good day. I felt pretty good. The only catch was that I couldn't go outside because of the heat and the way my face negatively responds to it. So here I stayed in the cool of my home. Was I productive? Not so much. But I enjoyed myself all the same.

And then, when Kevin got home from Battleford around 9:00, we made like vampires and went out into the night. I fed on ......... subway. We had a carwash date. And then home again. I would like to go for a walk but the skin on my legs hurts when I walk. It's the jostling. Jostling doesn't happen much around the house so I don't notice it so much unless I touch my legs or bump into something. I gently position them when I go to bed so one leg isn't hurting the other.

I haven't mentioned that my eyelashes are now really gone. Some time ago they had thinned to the point where I didn't bother with mascara and only used eye liner to provide some definition but now they're really gone. Do you know how tricky it is to put on eyeliner when you don't have a lash line to follow? Not so easy!

Let's hope I sleep better tonight. I refuse to use sleeping pills at this stage since I'm not on steroids now. Normally I sleep so well. Last night I was doing the hokey-pokey in the night with my limbs and I was also constantly removing and then putting on again the toquie thing I wear on my head when I sleep. It was almost like getting exercise! Especially since I kept losing my toquie thing and had to get up and dig through the covers to find it.

I love fushias. Love them.


Nimble Fingers Now Numble Fingers

Well, it's not as bad as all that. They're still pretty nimble. But my fingertips are definitely numb, like the bottoms of my feet. What surprises me is that side-effects are still emerging this long after my taxotere injection. My fingertips don't hurt and the numbness doesn't prevent them from doing what I want them to do, but they do feel funny. It started yesterday.

My face started peeling last night, too. It's not as bad as I had imagined either. I'd been horrified at the thought of skin hanging from my face leaving splotchy marks as it is peeled off. Not so. I put lotion on last night and as I rubbed it in, loose, dry bits of skin rolled off. No splotchy marks. More rubbed away this morning.

Those little side effects don't prevent me from feeling good today. I don't say "this morning" because I slept so late, it's closer to afternoon! I didn't have the best sleep during the night but I was able to sleep better after 7:00. That's okay. Nothing on my calendar that I had to be up for. It looks like another shockingly beautiful September day! Enjoy it, everyone!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Backyard Harvest

Look what I picked from our garden today. Tomatoes are definitely on the menu for dinner tonight.

I visited the Champion Centre today and had my PICC-line taken care of. The nurses there are so nice. I see them almost every week and they've started to feel like friends.

I was also able to talk to my oncological nurse and I'm scheduled to meet with my oncologist before my last chemo treatment. I wasn't previously scheduled to see him then even though I've seen him the day before every other treatment. Perhaps he thought all was predictable after the first taxotere treatment. Fooled him. Silly Doctor. Chemo is never predictable. I've done a little more research and the taxotere dosage guide indicates that if one has "cutaneous hypersensitivity reaction", that the taxotere dosage be reduced or, in severe instances, discontinued. I think my reaction would warrant a reduction in dosage.

Since I was out and about and not feeling too bad, I made a quick stop at Winners. I soon started to feel a little shaky and was just leaving when I bumped into a friend I haven't seen for years! Jill! We ended up sitting in a shady spot for a while, catching up with each other. She had her son's wedding photos with her and those were wonderful to see!

I knew I needed to get home right away. I love the heat but right now the heat doesn't love me. I could feel my face reacting ... turning red and getting itchier as the sun shone on me in the car. Still, I HAD to pit stop for a Quarter Pounder With Cheese ... just because. My taste buds are starting to regrow! Then back to the cool darkness that is our house.

Rhonda was just here. She stopped by after work with something to amuse and something to taste. But best of all was having her visit my bubble. She brought stories and updates about her family. It was great! Thanks so much, Rhonda. When I was talking with Hannah a couple of days ago, I told her that I was tired of blogging. Well, not so tired of blogging but tired and bored with "me". Tired of blogging all about "me". Which just reinforces my intention to quit blogging when I'm done with cancer or when cancer is done with me. I look forward to the day when I am too busy with life to blog and when I have so many other things to turn my attention to.

Kevin should be home soon so I will surprise him by washing dishes. Then I might need to park myself for a while.
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How You and This Blog Are Getting Me Through This

While I was awake in the night, I was thinking ... and thinking ...

Several women who have been through a similar ordeal, many of whom I've never even met in person, have shared their experiences with me and have offered information and encouragement. One woman told me how she started chemotherapy determined to walk every day, eat well, etc. but ended up doing little more than numbly park on the sofa and watch tv. In retrospect, she felt she was clinically depressed and probably should have been on medication for that. The chemo drugs themselves can cause depression not to mention that the whole horrific experience can be depressing on its own. I'm very grateful to all the women who have shared their stories with me. It's been so helpful.

The story above led me to think about how that could very possibly be me ... if not for this blog and, more importantly, if not for all of you who read this and who encourage me and who I know think of me every day. I didn't know at the time that my commitment to blogging this experience would have as many psychological benefits as it does.

Because I'm committed to being honest about this experience on this blog and because people other than myself are reading it, to allow myself to wallow like a lump of moss on the couch would be to fail not just myself but all of the people who care about me. Yes, I have my days of wallowing and I don't feel guilty about those because this chemo makes you bloody sick, that's what it does. But many days when wallowing isn't necessary, I also strongly feel the inclination to do just that. If I were to do that, it would make all of your encouragement and care ineffective and I want you to know how really, truly, you ... all of you ... are what keeps me getting off the couch on the days when I can (and that's most days) and keeping my sights on the end of this nasty chemo treatment and sustaining the hope that, as awful as it is, it will have blasted each and every little, evil, lurking cancer cell in my body and that only the good cells grow back. And because of you keeping me moving forward, I think it will help me adjust more easily when I return to a normal life.

So, to all of you, thanks ... thanks ... and more thanks.


Looking Forward to a Good Day

It feels wonderful to be able to say that! Granted, for some reason I didn't get a very good sleep last night. That is slightly disappointing and means I will not be able to skip today's nap. Bummer. But still, not awful!

I generally feel much better than I have been, that's for sure. The only minor disturbances are (and just for my records, otherwise, they're mostly too minor to mention):
1. My face is still itchy though not as red or as hot as it was before. My skin where it was the most red is papery and has little raised bumps almost like blisters, though they're not especially visible. I can feel them more than see them.

2. I have a slightly sore throat and ear (left side). What's that about?

3. The bottoms of my feet have been numbish for the past couple of days. It doesn't impede my ability to walk at all but it does feel odd. I noticed it first when I was bathing and scrubbing my feet. No pain, though.

4. Remember that infected blister on my arm from when I was in the hospital? Well, last night I noticed my arm was aching in that spot and when I looked in the mirror, there's a little pink spot in the exact same place as before ... slightly smaller than a dime. This happened a couple of months ago, too. Isn't that weird? It's like that infection has never completely gone away and is just waiting there to emerge again when I have a weak moment. That really bothers me, especially considering that I've been on antibiotics for the past week. What in the heck is it and why isn't it gone?

5. Occasional slight nausea.

6. Some minor gastrointestinal upsets. Meh.

7. Tender skin on my belly and legs. It feels like I'm bruised all over.

8. Major fatigue and considerable weakness ... but those are givens.
What I don't have ... yippee ... are blackened and lifting nails and nerve pain in my hands and feet.

So ... all in all ... the side effects I'm experiencing at this point are very, very minor and I generally feel quite good. I go to the Champion Centre this morning to get my F'in PICC-line flushed and redressed. I'm sure hoping they remove it next Thursday when I get my LAST chemo treatment. I looked up on the Internet how they remove it and it seems quite straight forward. They simply remove the stitches and then pull it out ... very slowly ... and then stick a bandaid over the hole. It shouldn't be an issue unless it catches or breaks and I don't think that happens very often. I will be SO GLAD to be rid of this thing! By the way, there is a YouTube video showing how the PICC-line is removed, but I don't have the stomach for that.

These hostas and impatiens are still looking beautiful and, in fact, are looking better in September than they looked all summer. This is the view that greets me in the mornings when I reach for my newspaper. This is the first year anything has been planted there. Kevin's brain wave. Pretty, huh?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Could the Sun Be Shining For Me, Too?

I think so!!! I must confess, yesterday was not very good and by late last night I was positively depressed. I'm just so tired of all of this ... the aching, the PICC-line, my weakened body, the face thing, the hair thing, my bubble ... ALL OF IT! I'd just had enough! So Kevin hugged me a lot and I had a good sleep.

My bright spot yesterday was a mid-afternoon phone call from Hannah. Sweet!

After yesterday I am so happy to wake up this morning to only half the aches and those ones aren't as bad. My back and upper body skin tenders seem to have left me while I slept! Yippee! My legs don't feel so weak this morning, either. Maybe ... just maybe ... I'm turning the corner now. I sure hope so. This last while has been the opposite of fun.

My face feels considerably better but the redness doesn't really go away. The skin where it's red feels papery, which makes this feel more like a chemical burn than a rash. Could that be? Perhaps?

So, today I feel optomisitic and am hoping to do something constructive ... something that makes me feel "accomplished" ... "Hey, Kev ... look what I did!" Kind of elementary school but that's where I'm at, I guess. I don't know WHAT I'll do yet, but I'll do something. I can just feel the energy coming back and wanting to ... okay, not exactly "explode" ... but just do SOMETHING!

I have 9 days before my LAST chemo treatment! LAST!! Can you believe it?? Anyway, I really want a string of good days before I head into that one. Maybe it's seeing the light at the end of tunnel that is making this harder to endure. I'm less patient. Then again, it really does feel worse. Enough of that, though. I'm smiling this morning and that's a very good thing.

This, by the way, is a ligularia. It's the flat flower head one and not the spikey one. Our spikey one finished blooming long ago. This one is blooming so late this year!


Monday, September 21, 2009

I Would Really Like to Call a Time Out

Our window boxes were a disappointment this year.  It's taken until September for the New Guinea Impatiens to show any blooms.  See the few peeking up? Next year I'll try begonias.  Our backyard is really looking shabby now.  The Nasturtiums are wilted.  The Virginia Creeper has shed most of it's leaves.  A lot of the flowers are in a state of decay.  Natch.  On the bright side, my sweet peas look pretty as a picture!

As much as I would like to call a time out right now, I know that I have no say in the rules.  No time outs.  Cancer waits for no one!  Neither do toxic drugs already coursing through your body.  There's just no stopping them ... which is a good thing, I suppose.  I'll try to convince myself of that.

After some really awful days, yesterday felt great in comparison.  I wouldn't say we pushed it, but I will say that Kevin and I took advantage of my feeling a bit better.  Kevin coaxed me into going to Home Depot.  I wanted to go but I felt quite self-conscious about the rash on my face.  I sucked it up and went anyway.  You know what felt heavenly?  Rain.  Rain on my skin felt so refreshing.  After Home Depot we stopped at Tastebuds for lunch.  My going to a place called "Tastebuds" might be perceived as wishful thinking. I did not find my tastebuds there, though.  My panini pretty much tasted like dust.   

Rex and Erin stopped by with some freezer meals.  Erin chose yesterday, which might well have been the hottest day of the summer, to spend the day in the kitchen cooking up a storm!  Silly girl!  Kevin and I are the grateful recipients of her culinary skills. She even made sushi for Kevin!  We talked Rex and Erin into staying to watch the Rider game with us.  Exciting game but it wasn't the end result we were hoping for.  

Cheryl and Alexa stopped by to pick up camping supplies and they dropped off some exquisite bath products, which I will save for when this @*&$%*!)-PICC-line is removed and I can actually enjoy a relaxing soak in the tub.  I can't wait to feel like a human again.  After I re-enter the human race, I will look forward to feeling like a woman again, too.  As you can tell, I have my sights set on the end of all of this cancer business.  

It was so nice of Jim to stop by after dinner.  He brought some of Lynne's spaghetti sauce. Yumm.  Jack phoned in the evening, too.  It was especially comforting these past few days for Kevin and I to feel connected to all of our family.  It feels safe and united.  Family and friends.  How would I manage without all of you?!

Nurse Cratchet administered the last of this series of neupogen injections!  Thanks, Syl!  

Now today.  I wish I could say I feel increasingly better but I'm not quite there.  Not much zippedy-doo-da today.  The rash on my face is still there and is bothersome.  It's not AS bad as it was previously.  I have a call in to my oncologist to discuss it.  Today my body aches all over and my skin is tender to touch.  My energy is very low and I feel weaker than yesterday.  Bummer.  On the plus side, my body temperature is back to normal and that, I think, gives me the fortitude I need to manage without a much yearned for time out.  Maybe things will pick up during the day.  Could happen.  
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I'm happy to announce that I feel like I've come out from under the rug into the sunlight even though it's not sunny this morning. It feels sunny to me. I feel stronger this morning. My muscles feel stronger and I feel cheerier. It might help that my temperature this morning is almost down to normal. It's under the 37 degree mark, at least. Unfortunately the rash on my face and now neck is just as bothersome and itchy. DAMN!! But it's good to feel that I have more fortitude to manage the discomfort of it.

I'm looking forward to the distraction of the Rider game this afternoon.

Thanks, everyone, for your care and strength through this particularly rocky time.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twilight Zone Memories ...

This is probably the physically weakest I've felt during this whole chemo ordeal. My legs can barely carry me up the stairs. I tried to open a can today with our can opener and I almost couldn't do it. An empty dinner plate feels like a 10 lb weight.

I slept off and on most of the day. Chemo. Benedryl. Probably both of those combined make me especially sleepy. Dozy. Dizzy. I'm calmer today, though, and not so despairing. That's good. I'm just taking it one moment at a time and will hopefully sleep a lot of these moments away.

I'm not sure now that the Benedryl is working. My face is still hot, red, puffy and itchy and now it's moving down the sides of my neck. If it doesn't improve by Monday, I'm going to try to see my oncologist about it. It looks more "rashy" now.

Kevin thought it would be good to get me out of the house tonight so we went for a drive. He was right. It was good to get out for a bit. We just drove around and then we did Kevin's favourite thing ... we went through the carwash ... the new Co-op one on Clarence.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my Dad today. In our family, I think he and Hannah are the ones who, in other circumstances, would have been the most likely to have made their way in the world as mentalists or, at least, touring with a psychic fair. That's what Hannah and her Grandpa most have in common. I've never seen such a 6th sense in my brothers or myself, but in my Dad and Hannah it's almost eerie.

When I was about 8 or 9 our family went to the Calgary Stampede because my school unit's marching band was taking part in the Stampede Parade and my brothers were both involved with that. We later went to the fair grounds and something significant only for it's total insignificance always stuck in my head about that. I don't know where the rest of my family was at the time - maybe they were standing beside us - but I remember standing beside my Dad and watching the Bobsled ride. The music was very loud and they were playing "Clap for the Wolfman". For some reason, whenever I hear this song I think of that moment. Why? I have no idea. There is no reason for this memory to be taking up space in my brain. How many other rides have I been on or watched and I don't remember the music that was playing! Because of it's total insignificance, I have never mentioned this to anyone. Until ... until one day when my own kids were little and we were in the car with my Mom and Dad driving from the lake to the farm and that song came on the radio and I started to say, "Whenever I hear this song, I remember ...". Before I could finish the sentence, my Dad interrupted with my exact memory. I was a little freaked out because why on earth would I remember such a thing let alone anyone else?

When my Mom and Dad were in the States not so long ago, my Mom bought Dad a package of underwear in preparation for their bus tour to Alaska. When they opened the package, a small piece of paper fluttered out. It was one of those little "checked for quality" things but have you ever seen one with a checker's signature? I never have. I've only ever seen ones with numbers. This one had a signature and not only was it my name, at a glance even I would think it was my own cursive signature. Bizarre! I still have that little piece of paper. It still looks like my signature.

One afternoon, I was driving Hannah to her voice lesson when I noticed that one of my fingers was numb from the tip to the bottom of the nail bed. I pinched it a few times and then hung my arm down and shook it in an effort to get the blood circulating but still it stayed numb. I looked at it and it was ghostly white where it was numb. I showed it to Hannah. After about an hour the feeling came back. When we got home, I phoned Mom and Dad for no particular reason. Mom answered and said they'd just walked in the door. They'd been to Eston. I asked if they had Doctor's appointments, which is why they usually go to Eston. "N0," Mom said, "your Dad cut the end of his finger off in the table saw". She filled me in on all the gory details ... almost more than I could stomach. It was just the tip. Dad drove. It's all bandaged. Scary. Later, I got thinking about my own finger and phoned Mom back to ask again which finger it was and ... you guessed it ... the same finger and the same depth ... tip to nail bed. Same time, too. How crazy is that?! A few days later I experienced the same numbness in the same finger and I called home immediately. Nobody was home. I called again later to find out they'd been to Eston to have the bandages changed and there had been some problems changing the bandage because it was stuck. There is no explanation for things like this. Is there?

Hannah has always had what I've called incredible "insight" and "intuition" ... but it has often seemed a little deeper than that. Like some 6th sense. And if you've ever seen Hannah listening or watching something that interests her (and almost everything interests her), you'll have seen the focus in her eyes and will have noticed the constant, rhythmic swiveling of her head on her neck while she's absorbing information ... like some antennae tuning in to signals from who knows where. She would sometimes say to me, "Mom, I know what you're thinking", and then she would tell me. And she would be right. You might be able to attribute some of those "guesses" to her sense of logic, but sometimes I would really wonder how she could possibly have guessed. Hannah has always understood things that would seem well beyond her years. Yes, she and her Grandpa are the most "intuitive" in our family, I think. Both mysterious that way.

My Dad's Mom ... my Grandma ... came to Canada from Romania. We had a crystal ball at home that had been Grandma's. I used to romantacize about having a gypsy background but later I learned that Grandma wasn't actually Romanian, she was German and her family had fled Germany and had lived in a German community in Romania. So ... big disappointment ... no Gypsy blood. Still, there are some crazy "psychic" stories from Grandma's side of the family. So maybe this 6th sense, as I call it, is something my Dad and Hannah have inherited.

I think lots of people must have similar experiences but they can be so unsettling, we don't often talk much about them. I don't know exactly where I stand on "psychic phenomena" ... I'm an open-minded skeptic ... but I do think it would be arrogant to believe that the boundaries of my own understanding define the limits of all possibilities.

It's been nice thinking so much about Dad and my family today. I tried to phone Mom to tell her I was thinking about her, too, but she was out. I hope you're out having fun, Mom.


Inhale Deeply and Just Breathe ...

Saturday morning. Hmmm ...

I don't feel so awful as yesterday but I don't feel very good, that's for sure. I still have that "hit by a cement truck" feeling. And my face is still red, puffy, hot and itchy, though not as bad as it had been ... I think. So far. I still have a low-grade fever. Come on, antibiotics ... do your stuff. We'll see what the day brings.

This is a gladiola from our back yard. I stepped outside last night for some fresh air and took this photo. I think there was a nice sunset last night. I could see a bit of it over the houses and treetops.

I always take some time on this date to remember my Dad. Luke reminded me of him yesterday. Like Dad, Luke always knows so much more than you think he knows and sometimes I'm startled when he reveals his understanding or knowledge of something. You might not think he's paying attention but he really is soaking up information and storing it away. My Dad was always a bit mysterious to me that way. A man of few words but when he spoke, it was almost always significant. I see that similarity in Luke. Thanks, Don and Syl, for the pretty bouquet and the thoughtful card and for remembering my Dad, too.

Here's hoping for a better day today. My stomach feels shaky. Must eat toast.


Friday, September 18, 2009

I Feel like I was hit by a cement truck today!

Just a short update for those who are checking to let you know that I'm coming 'round after a very miserable day. (I now see this is a LONG update, but it was quick because I do type pretty quickly).

I cried all morning. Buckets. I had a bath to try to make myself feel better but just cried the whole time, nose running and tears dripping into my bath water. I can't lie back and have a good, soothing, soak because of having to keep my PICC-line arm out of the water. I was sure a miserable sight, I know. I just cried for everything ... kind of like that one day in the hospital. I cried for not recognizing myself in the mirror. I cried for hair. I cried for my swollen, red, itchy face. For the slow passing of these days. For all the personal little indignities that come with going through this process. I just cried and cried and cried. A total immersion in my own little pity-fest. I don't feel guilty. I'm pretty proud of myself for having so few days of crushing self-pity. I would bet that every person going through any similar ordeal would have, at least, some very miserable days no matter how optimistic and positive one otherwise feels. I deserved a pity party. I would worry if it extended beyond a day or two but I seriously doubt that will happen. I feel a little stronger emotionally tonight.

The Benedryl must have made me very sleepy. I slept solidly for a couple of hours this afternoon and woke up feeling less hot in the face and a little less miserable. Lynne chose an opportune time to stop by on her way home from work and she was a bit of a saviour for me, whether she knows it or not. I didn't even know it would be helpful to have someone stop by, otherwise I would have called someone. Honest. I would have. Not only did she distract me from myself with news of the world outside me but she picked my strawberries, which I'd forgotten. She washed and hulled them for me to snack on, and whipped up our dishes. Kevin was grateful for that, too. Thanks, Lynne.

Kevin prepared a nice pasta and salad meal for dinner. Thanks, Honey, even if the salad did taste a little yucky to me. I'm sure I would have liked if I'd have real tastebuds.

If I hadn't had to pee, I probably wouldn't have heaved myself off the sofa today at all. I just feel so whipped! As I said, it feels like being hit by a cement truck today.

My face is getting increasingly red, hot, swollen and itchy again and I've now taken a second dose of Benedryl. Let's hope it solves the problem or, at least, minimizes it. If nothing else, it will probably make me sleep tonight.

My Buddy, Luke, phoned and that made a big difference in cheering me up. I felt badly though, because I started to cry as soon as I heard his voice. I couldn't help myself. I hadn't talked to him for a while. But I soon got a grip and was able to reassure him that I was okay and that the medicine would be kicking in to save the day. He updated me on his life ... all is well. He's tired all the time from being so busy with classes, homework, workouts and practices. The boys are out to have some fun tonight, though. Good for them. Luke gave me a pep talk ... "almost there, Mom ... only one more to go". He's more knowledgeable than I would have guessed. He asked if I was drinking lots of water. I told him I was trying but that it tastes kind of yucky. He suggested I try lemon in it. I'll do that, Luke.

Now ... back to the sofa where there appears to be a permanent impression of me in the leather. When all this is done, I might just HATE the sight of this sofa and might need a new one to shake the heebie-jeebies. I might even need a whole new house. I hope we win that home lottery, Lynn!

Lyn (the Lyn with one "n" --- you know who you are) ... I'll look forward to your wedding stories and photos.

Speaking of heebie-jeebies ... Lori, I caught and released a spider today and thought of you. I "released" it straight into the toilet. I hope the itsy-bitsy spider story has some merit so I won't feel like a murderer.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Taxotere is EVIL!!

I feel awful today. Deadly fatigued. Slightly nauseous. My face is still red and itchy and dry ... my neck, too, a bit. I've lotioned my face and neck to the max because the heat can only be very drying. I've heard about some women's skin peeling and I don't want that, of course! I have a call in to the oncological nurse to see if there's anything I can take. Maybe benedryl? From my reading, I believe this is a slightly less common reaction to the taxotere. This morning my eyebrow area is red, too and my eyelids are a bit puffy. I feel like puffy, red, pig-face creature. How ugly is that?!

I'm sorry to say that this feels like a "curl up in a fetal position and cry" kind of day. Don't be alarmed and I wish there was something someone could do, but I know it's just one of the days I'm just going to have to work through on my own. I don't feel like any attempt at cheering would be helpful. It just helps to know that you're all there and that your hearts are with me. That buoys me as much as anything.

So, please just let me sink into this shitty day and I'll expect to be feeling stronger later or tomorrow, at least. You know, it's hard to choose to be honest here but, for me, I think it's important.

PS: I just got a call from the Champion Centre and they're prescribing an antibiotic for me and suggesting benedryl with the stipulation that if the fever goes up to 38 degrees and if the red, itchy face persists, to go to Emergency and get it assessed. Hopefully this will help.


Now, that makes me laugh! Even when I'm feeling crappy!

Alyssa, Carol's daughter, is planning a BOOB-A-Q as a fundraiser for the CIBC Walk for the Cure! Isn't that hilarious?! And sweet?!! It makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Thanks, Alyssa! You ARE your mother's daughter!!

Hot Tamale!

That's what I feel like but not in the vava-voom way, unfortunately. My face was red and a bit hot when I woke up this morning. It's not usually. After lunch, my cheeks got hotter and hotter. And then my face got itchy along my jawline. I've had a low-grade fever most of the day and just haven't felt very good ... mostly it's the hot face and the fever. And it's mostly the right side of my face. Most of the time the left side of my face only gets a bit hot. Very tolerable. But the right side is ON FIRE and VERY RED! Previously this feeling has come and gone. This is the longest it's continued ... pretty much since after dinner last night. Very draining. I might phone tomorrow to ask if this is normal or if there's something I can or should be doing to thwart it? It's probably "just chemo" and, as we know, "cancer isn't for everyone"!

Despite feeling crappy, we had a nice visit from Dave, Laurel, and Ellie, who were out for a walk. A very nice distraction from myself! Ellie is funny. She has a compulsion to pick up and carry her water dishes ... even at our house! Laurel has tried heavier and heavier water dishes and has tried bigger ones with lots of water. Still, Ellie manages to drag them around and spill water everywhere. Dogs. Funny critters. I want one.

We had a great conversation with Hannah tonight. It was soooo nice to talk with her and catch up with all that's going on in her life. She's good medicine. Mom called, too. Her company left today. I'm sure she'll need a little stillness around her for a while. Some time to regroup. I also talked with Lori, at last. And I heard from Carol, Carol, and Lynelle, too.

Food update: Hot dogs - not so tasty. KD - pretty good. I'm horrified!!
Movie of the Night - the highly anticipated (by me) Wolverine movie. My impression is that I like the previous X-Men movies better. Much better. Still ... Wolverine! What's not to like?!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Almost Forgot that I'm a Princess!

How did that happen??!!  It wasn't until I picked up the phone and heard Gayle's voice, "Is this Princess Heather?", that I thought ... "Hell ya! That's ME!!"  

Gayle and Bonnie surprised me with an impromptu lunch visit, complete with a trio of booster juices.  It was GREAT!!  Gayle brought me this little pillowy thing, among other treasures, to hang on my door!  Won't Kevin's eyes just roll when he comes home to this at the front door!!  I don't think he has forgotten for a moment that I'm a princess!  Crown or no crown.  Of course, I met Gayle and Bonnie wearing my crown.  I had to dust it off ... it's been that long.  I really had forgotten that I'm a princess.  I'll try to not let that happen again.  

I regret that in all the excitement I forgot to take a photo of Bonnie and Gayle while they were here.  Otherwise, I'd be posting that photo.  I also kicked myself for fogetting to take one of Cindy and Bobbi when they were here.  I do get easily distracted.  

And now, for a little princess nap.  Just talk to the door!
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Happy Surprises

Here you see my nephew, Josh, and his girlfriend, Noelene. They are both pilots working out of Yellowknife. Josh is home for a couple of weeks vacation, helping Darrel out with harvest ... when they can find stuff ripe enough to harvest, that is. Noelene had only a few days to spare so hers is short visit. This is the first time Kevin and I have had an opportunity to meet her and we are thrilled! She seems like someone we've know all our lives. Don't they look good together?! It looks like they even colour coordinated their clothes.

Yesterday was a pretty good day all-round. It's not like I needed to curl up in a fetal position on the couch. That's a good sign. Sylvia drove me to the Champion Centre and came with me to learn from the pros how to change the dry bandages over my PICC-line. There's a little redness around the stitches that hold the contraption in place on my arm, but Tracey tells me that's not unusual and is nothing to worry about. It's probably my body rejecting the stitches and trying to push them out, which often happens, and then they have to restitch or otherwise clamp the thing to the arm to secure it. I expressed my wish that it would all hold together just long enough to get through the next chemo treatment, at least ... exactly two weeks from now ... and I asked when they usually remove the PICC-line. Tracey told me they usually remove it right then ... at the last chemo treatment! Now that's exciting to contemplate!! Still, I'll believe it when my doctor tells me it's true. I don't want to get too pumped about it because I don't think I could face the disappointment if they told me I'd have to keep it there through the next surgery. I so want that thing out of my arm and chest.

After I got home, I had a much needed afternoon nap. I didn't experience much in terms of stabbing pains and twitches yesterday. Not even last night. I did have some numbness in my lower legs. While I was walking from the parking lot to the Champion Centre, it felt like my feet weren't attached to my legs. I think I managed to walk normally but I really had to think about it. It felt like my feet wanted to flop around and go in different directions. Strange. It felt fine later.

When I woke up, Kevin was home. He put some drops in my eyes to help with the discomfort there. And then ... this is where the surprise comes in ... Darrel, Josh and Noelene phoned to say they were bringing all the fixings for a steak dinner right to our house! It was wonderful! Wonderful to see them all, to meet Noelene, to have a little social event right here in my bubble, and to taste test some foods.

I must say the steak and potatoes tasted crappy. The corn on the cob, though, tasted wonderful and it tasted sweeter than I remember corn normally tasting. Corn will now be one of my go-to foods when I'm needing a hit of flavour. Noelene made a very nice spinach and strawberry salad and I could taste the strawberries in it, too. Poor Noelene. She had to make the dressing for the salad twice because after she went to all the trouble of squeezing the lemons, etc., she accidentally selected the wrong canister and ended up with salt instead of sugar in the dressing. No problems. We had more lemons and redid. The salt/sugar switch has happened before. I should really label the cannisters. The best part of the whole meal was the company.

Lynn, who had been at a Credit Union event, came by after dinner and, later still, Kathy showed up, so we had all of them here for a while at least. I especially liked the retelling of family stories ... how ginormous Josh and Luke were as babies, especially they're heads in adult-sized helmets ... and how much food they all inhaled ... how Kevin wondered if Hannah had a tapeworm ... and remembering Dad (Grandpa to our kids) and some of the things the kids remember about him ... his big hands and how warm he was ... wrestling hopelessly with him. It was especially fitting to recall happy memories of Dad because this Saturday is the anniversary of his death and that's how I like to remember him ... with fun and laughs. Thanks so much for coming, guys! Oh, and Otto was here, too, of course. The baby of the family. During all of this, Sylvia came by and gave me my injection. Two more of those left this round.

By 9:30 my face started getting very hot and very red. After everyone left, I put a cold washcloth on my face. This has happened the past three nights and I get a low-grade fever along with it. It's very uncomfortable. I'll have a blanket over my legs because they're cold and a cold washcloth on my face because it's burning up! I did manage to get a good sleep but when I woke up this morning, my face is still hot and red. Damn!

The old digestive system has been a little off the past couple of days, too, which is annoying. Still, all considered, I can't complain. This causes a lot of problems for many people going through chemo and I've been lucky to have had so few issues with it. Hopefully, it will "work itself out", so to speak.

And now ... well, now ... I feel "okay". Not horrible. Not good. But okay. We'll see where the day leads.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This is my fourth and last head vase. She looks most like a kind and gentle librarian, don't you think? If you don't mind stereotyping, that is. She's slightly larger than the other three. And these are sweet peas from my very own garden. This is the best crop of sweet peas I've been able to grow since we lived on Albert Avenue over 20 years ago! They smell heavenly!!

Twitch. That's what I was calling myself last night. As the evening progressed, my knees and ankles started to hurt more. The pain was more consistent and less fleeting. I also noticed some slight pain and tingling in one of my big toes. Not bad ... not the kind of thing you would probably even notice unless you were looking for it. And then the twitching started. My left eye had already done some twitching earlier but then my feet and toes started twitching. By the time I went to bed, they were so twitchy, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep so I took another sleeping pill and let it carry me off to lala land. I'm not so twitchy this morning.

I also had a low-grade fever last night and took some tylenol just to make sure it didn't elevate in the night while I was sleeping and I hoped the tylenol might minimize some of the pains in my feet and knees. All's good. I don't feel too bad this morning and the pains and twitching are gone or have subsided for the time being.

My PICC-line isn't causing me any pain since Kevin changed the dressing. I go in to the Champion Centre today to have it flushed and redressed again.

Kevin brought me home some various flavoured waters to try and I must say that the one I tried last night was almost "refreshing". It was strawberry and watermelon flavoured and I could even taste the strawberry. Bonus. It was a nice treat to taste something. He also brought home a chocolate malt thing from Wendy's, which was not to bad either, surprisingly. Typically chocolate tastes horrible ... like chalk. But a little of the malt wasn't too bad at all. It's nice to try some things. French fries, by the way, taste icky.

In yesterday's list of side-effects, I should have mentioned that I DO NOT have problems with my nails so far and, hopefully, never will. They haven't started turning black of lifting. They are a bit brittle but I keep rubbing lotion into them. Another side effect I notice is that I'm a little off-balance, though a lot of you knew that already. I just notice it in little ways like when I walk through a door I often end up crashing my shoulder into the door jam or smashing my hip into the dishwasher when I pass ... things like that. It serves as a reminder to me to be very careful of my footing on the stairs.

Thanks, Lynn, for stopping by with a selection of jigsaw puzzles for me try. We'll see if the spirit moves.

It's a beautiful, sunny day and my goal today is to go for a walk now that I don't have to spend my "good time" chatting up SaskTel tech support for hours on end!! I haven't done enough walking. I know that. Walking is good for obvious reasons but it also helps flush the toxins through my system faster. Must walk more.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Night ... All Is Calm. All Is Bright. No Vampires.

Just letting you know that today wasn't too bad. Not bad at all. I slow down as the day progresses. That's normal under the circumstances.

It strikes me as odd that it's mostly in the evenings when the stabbing pains in my joints start while it isn't very bothersome during the day. My eyes also started bothering again this evening, too. Kevin put some drops in for me. And I have a headache, which seems par for the course.

Kevin redid the dressing on my arm. We can't figure out why it's bothering me but I'll ask about it tomorrow when I visit the Champion Centre.

Speaking of night, there sure are a lot of vampire movies and shows around, aren't there? I can't handle all the bloody visuals. Ick. I don't find vampires at all "romantic".

Spidie Senses

This is a spider Mom noticed at our back door. He's big! And he seems fitting since I feel like I have spiders inside me. Well, not exactly, but close enough.

I felt very crappy yesterday after feeling increasingly worse on Sunday. On the upside, I slept well last night and feel not so bad today. Much better than I did on Sunday and yesterday. So far. And not just because my internet is fixed, though that does help with my spirits, of course.

Current Side Effects for Our Records:

1. Tongue turned black. My mouth was feeling gummy on Sunday afternoon, so I checked to see if my tongue was turning white like last time and was startled to see it was black. Ewww. I brushed it gently with my toothbrush, but it was still black. The top part was kind of charcoal coloured and the grooves were black. Today, though, it looks much better. Just barely grey.

2. My eyes have bothered me. My eyeballs were aching and my vision was a bit off. I had Kevin help me with some eye drops and that seems to have made a big difference. Problem solved ... perhaps.

3. Sharp pains in knees, ankles and the sides of my feet. Fleeting but sharp. Not unbearable. It also makes my feet and legs feel restless.

4. Chemo Brain. This is the first time I would actually say that I can tell that treatment is causing any brain blips. I've read and heard about chemo brain but haven't, until now, noticed anything aside from my usual flagging memory. The last couple of days I'm quite surprised at the little things I can't remember. I hear this will pass. Let's hope. At any rate, it's not nearly as bad as the stories I've heard. Someone told me, too, that my inability to concentrate is probably chemo brain, too. Possibly but I'm not 100% sure about that, but now I am aware of some real, but minor, memory slips.

5. Fever. Yesterday I felt really crappy. By midafternoon I was having chills and finally I figured out that I had a dreaded fever that reached just over 38, at which point one has to call an Oncologist. Kevin called the oncologist on call at Emergency and we were given permission to take Tylenol. Slowly it helped and by the time I went to bed at midnight, I had a normal temp and I'm thrilled to say I slept very well (me and my sleeping pill) and I do not have a fever today. YIPPEE!! I DO NOT want to go back to the hospital.

6. Fatigue and weakness. I feel a little numbness in the fronts of my upper legs sometimes and when I walk I feel slightly unstable. I don't feel like I'll collapse ... not remotely ... just cautious. It feels strange ... little bits of numbness here and there but, like the stabbing pains, fleeting.

7. Taste buds have gone to hell. I knew that was coming, which means I way overate the few days before chemo ... just trying to catch some favourite flavours while I could even when I was already full. Now I have little appetite and what I do feel like eating isn't necessarily "good stuff", unless you call peanut butter, jam, cheez whiz and pretzels good stuff? Still, I make myself eat some tasteless fruit and veggies. I made sure I ate a whole jar of Cindy's canned peaches BEFORE I lost my tastebuds. They were DELICIOUS!!

8. Nausea. Yes, that's starting, too. I tend to reach for toast or pretzels to settle my stomach. I'm starting to feel nausea a couple of times a day and always a bit at night. Same as last time.

9. Today my PICC-line in my arm is bugging me. It hurts when I flex my arm muscle or turn my arm so that it turns that muscle. I might get Sylvia to redress it for me. Sylvia, bless her, came by last night to give me my neupogen injection and to change the dressing over my PICC-line. Thanks, Syl. Sorry we were such curmudgeons last night. It had just been an especially crappy day.

And now, my friends, we're all up to date. The fact that I'm feeling better today than the past 2 days feels encouraging to me. I'll just enjoy it while I can. And now for some toast.


Moon Face and the Splurgers

This is what might have been Friday night's post if I'd had an internet connection.

I felt quite good on Friday. It seemed like much of my day was spent trying to resolve internet issues and then napping. I hadn't planned on being at splurge but, since I was feeling better than expected, I just showed up. We had a GREAT time! As always!! As you can see, they're a VERY silly bunch. Two of the crazy bunch were missing (they'll be sorry), which is unfortunate! These crazy, wonderful women are super team members and you can bet they'll stand out in the crowd at the CIBC Run for the Cure.


Last Thursday Night's Flower Photo

This is the photo I was going to past last Thursday night along with an update to say I was doing great ... that's when I learned we had lost our internet connection.

Anyway, these are bouquets from Don and Sylvia's garden. Sylvia borrowed a couple of my head vases for them. Aren't they gorgeous??!! The girl in green is my third head vase.

And, by the way, I was feeling really very good Thursday night.


I'm baaaaaaa aaaaack!

Six days without internet! FINALLY, SaskTel sent Russ, who is an exceptional young man. Not just because he was able to fix everything but because of the manner in which he did so. It turned out to be a combination of odd issues but all's working now and I can connect with the world outside my bubble again.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Finally! I Borrowed A Computer!!

Here I am at Rex and Erin's for th Rider Game. I came in time to use their computer to update myself and all of you. I'm sorry if I caused any alarm by not posting since Thursday but we've been having SaskTel Modem problems and they STILL haven't been able to come by to fix it. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. This is day 4 without my computer and I must say I've found it a little depressing not to be able to update this experience. I find that as I start to hit the slippery slope, my memory slips a bit, too, and I have trouble remembering everything so it's best if I can update daily.

Anyway ... the days since the chemo treatment have been okay. In fact, on Friday night I felt well enough to make a surprise appearance at my Splurge Club Meeting at Alana's place! We had such a hoot and it was wonderful to see my pals! Lots of laughs and shenanigans and, on top of all that, I won! Alana sent me home with frozen soups (thanks, Alana) to carry me through some of my tender mouth days to come. Yesterday Kevin and I went to Pier I and spent my splurge money. We bought something I've been wanting for a long time ... a kitchen butcher block island thingie. I love it and it will remind me of my splurge buddies every day, as does the bench in our family room and the little table in our entry way. **smile**

Yesterday I suffered lack of sleep mostly and I could feel the downward slide starting. I took a sleeping pill last night and really slept long and hard, which I must have needed. Today, the skin tenders have started ... mostly my face, the back of my head and across my chest and my mouth is getting a bit sore. This time, though, I have a prescription for Magic Mouthwash (really ... that's what they call it) and I took a dose of it today. It really numbs the mouth and it does make it feel better. I can take that up to 4 times a day. I don't know if it actually prevents mouth sores or just soothes them. Soothing is good, though.

It was so nice to have Cindy and Bobbi stop by for a visit yesterday while they were in town! I hadn't seen either of them for quite a while. They're looking great! Cindy brought freshly canned BC peaches. She did them herself. She phoned home from the rodeo they were attending in BC to tell her Dad that she "got her peaches" and he kept saying, "You got your teeth fixed?" Hilarious!

Carol popped in, too, and regaled me with tales of her new working life at Persephone! She's one busy woman there! It all sounds very exciting.

Don and Syl came by last night mid-festivities so that Sylvia could give me my Neupogen injection. Four more of those left this session. Oh joy! She also changed my dressing on my PICC-line. We've switched to a dry dressing to prevent peeling my skin off and to avoid any further allergic reactions to sticky bandages. We have to change it every 2nd day, though, instead of weekly. No problemo.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Pat and George!

Well, know that all is going as might be expected so far. Hopefully our network connection will be fixed today or tomorrow and I'll be able to post some of the photos I've been collecting.

Thanks to all of you for being there for me in myriad ways! Much appreciated. Being able to connect via computer is already making me feel less down. Really, being without it has been sad for me and a real downer.

And, by the way, Lori, I went to phone you back and then realized I only have your phone number in my gmail and, of course, I couldnt' get it. Please phone me again, okay?


Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Can Say It Now ... Only 1 CHEMO LEFT!!!

Here I am at my chemo appointment. Just call me Icy Square. I thought you might be interested to know what the ice boots and gloves are like. Let me tell you, they are icy cold! I think I have frost bite on the backs of my hands! We switched to icier ones a couple of times as they warmed up during the injection. We were there for almost 3 hours. I also chewed ice chips that Sylvia spoonfed me. Maybe this will help prevent some of the mouth discomfort I experienced last time. It was worth a shot.

You might notice that my face is pretty rosy. No make-up. No tan. I avoid sun while on chemo and, if I have to be out in it for a while without an umbrella, I have on 60 spf suncreen. No, the tanned or sun burned look is thanks to dexamethasone ... my steroid friend/enemy. This morning my one cheek was really red in particular. It was like that last time. I wonder why only one cheek usually gets red at a time. Chemo ... who really understand it?! That is the adventure of chemo.

Thanks, Sylvia, for being my attentive nurse and Mom in Kevin's absence. All went well. Sylvia was on top of everything, of course. Once a nurse, always a nurse. I'm glad to have her on my team.

And now I'm home and Mom just arrived. I've had lunch and now I might have a snooze if I can. The Benedryl makes me very sleepy. It's what they give me to help prevent any potential allergic reaction to the Taxotere (chemo drug). We'll see if it will override my "upper" dexamethasone.

Thanks, everyone, for cheering me on through this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And now ... to lounge.

PS: You might also be interested to know that I now have some peach fuzz growing on my scalp ... very soft but there. I might lose it again this week, but it's nice to know it can reappear. No photos, though. I haven't got to the point where I can look at photos of myself bald and if they make me wince, I'm obviously not at a point where I'll put them out there for the world to see. Still, I told Kevin I should make sure I have one or two just as keepsakes. Maybe I'll be so brave one day. Or ... so lacking in vanity. One or both of those.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Flyin' High!

This photo is of the boys that are now retired from the Scorpions Field Lacrosse team because they're all now too old. How sad. It's nice to have a photo of them with their incredible coaches, Al and Mike.

Today I started my dexamethasone (my 'roid) and I'm just trippin'! I first realized it when I was typing an email and I was amazed at how fast I was typing. My fingers were flying. Yup. Uppers. How else to explain?! And then it occurred to me that I'd done a lot of errands during the day and seemed to have some extra energy and felt warmer than I normally would have. It has to be the dexamethasone. Tonight Lynn picked me up and we went looking at show homes in Stonebridge and then stopped by Kathy's place for a moment. Always nice to see Kath. And now here I am ... still flyin'! What a good feeling! Of course, this also means a sleeping pill tonight, which I'm not so thrilled about. Still, I know I need them to get through the "tired but wired" part. Suck it up. I do understand how people can get hooked on using these uppers and downers, though. I do like feeling oddly energetic and even hyper for a change.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments, emails and phone calls. I'll wrap myself in the comfort of your care and prayers and barrel on through this chemo and then ... only 1 left!!! Nurse Cratchet will be with me. I'll miss Kevin and his helpful attention to detail but Syl will be hot on all of that, I know. Mom will be in tomorrow to stay with me for a while. I'm in the safe and caring hands of my two Moms and all of you, too.

Good night, everyone! Tomorrow we kick some cancer cell butt!

Bracing for Tomorrrow

Isn't this a handsome young man?! It's a good thing you don't get the post-game odour effect from a photo, though. Still, things like that never deter parents from getting close! Thanks, Don, for the photo. How did Luke get this tall? Hannah, too?

Today Kevin and I visited the Champion Centre for pre-chemo appointments. Bloodwork. My PICC-line was flushed and redressed. Again, skin came off when the bandaging was changed and it's still stinging! I think it's the taxotere (chemo drug) that's making my skin a bit fragile. My oncologist looked at it and I might have to switch to a dry dressing that would then have to be changed daily instead of weekly. Still, that's better than ripping the skin off my arm. This time, too, the nurse used a skin barrier ointment to try to prevent the allergic reaction I've been having to the bandage. We'll see how that goes.

We met with my oncologist and we're all on board for tomorrow. I also have an appointment with a radiologist lined up for the end of September and an appointment will also be arranged with my surgeon for after my last chemo treatment. All the ducks are getting lined up. It's nice, at least, to be able to finally start looking beyond chemo even if what I'm seeing isn't yet any of the fun stuff. Still, it's progress. Baby steps. After tomorrow, I'll be able to say "only 1 chemo treatment left". Thank the powers that be for that!!

Now I'm going to get groceries and get stocked with things that might be palatable for the next while.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Very Own Sweet Peas ...

... blossomed while I was away! Not a big crop but I'll take what I can get. Here they are in another head vase.

Hey Lady! Wake up! Did you know you've got flowers growing out of your head?!
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Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

I was NOT glad to come home. Being home means my next treatment ... just when I'm starting to feel better. Still ... I know ... I need and WANT this treatment. Time to put on my big girl panties and get on with it.

Oddly, my next treatment is NOT Wednesday this week. It's on Thursday for a change. That gives me one more day than I had expected for feeling good and getting out and about. Bonus. The trouble with it being on Thursday is that Kevin has a meeting in Regina that he absolutely can't miss, so he won't be able to be with me for this one. No worries, though. I feel confident that this one won't be any different that the last one, which turned out to be no big whoop injection-wise. I'll be just fine.

I'd rather be watching lacrosse.

Monday, September 7, 2009

End of Vacation. How Sad!

Well, it's all over but the drivin'. We watched some great lacrosse yesterday in the blazing heat! Good thing we had our umbrellas, which made it quite comfortable sitting out in the sun.

The boys had a a disappointing loss to the BC Selects in the morning putting them out of gold medal contention, so they played the BC Stars in the afternoon for bronze. It was a very exciting (tense) game. Things were falling apart for our guys in the 3rd quarter but half way through the 4th quarter, they came from behind with all sticks blazing and pulled off the win for the bronze medal. The boys from our U-16 team were there cheering them on as were a whole lot of Saskatchewan parents! Ontario won gold. All in all, a very good tournament, though bringing home a gold medal was the goal. So sorry, Mitch, that the last game cost you a broken collar bone ... again! Wishing you a quick heal.

We sure had a lot of fun with all of the lacrosse parents. Just a blast! It's been a great escape from what had become "the usual".

Now we're on the way to the airport to drop off a bunch of boys. Tandon to Edmonton and Luke, Matt, and Arden to Louisville. And then the long drive home and back to reality. Not ready for that, but ... oh well!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Canadian Field Lacrosse National All Stars

We just got home from the Canadian Field Lacrosse Nationals Banquet and here is a photo of the boys from our team who were selected for the Tournament All Stars.

Three players each from the whole tournament are chosen for the positions of attack, defense, and middie, and one goalie is chosen as well. One of our team's boys were chosen for each of the field positions: Reagan for Middie - Luke for Attack - Arden for Defense. That's great, especially considering that last year our team won bronze at Nationals and none of our players were selected as All Star while players from the 5th and 6th place teams were. Congratulations boys!

Thanks, Marion and Richard, for coming out to watch a game today. It was nice to see you even if only for a short time.

I'm cooked. Alas, no parent party for me