Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where to start....or Part 1 of the last few weeks

I guess I'll start back a few weeks ago when Miss Leanne came from Vancouver to visit me and accompany me to chemo...
Saturday, May 15th - Leanne arrived from Vancouver, Ron left for Aberdeen (Scotland). Us girls (me, Leanne and Leanne) got to go out for a fantastic dinner at Mercato (while Norma, my MIL, babysat for me) in Mission. I went out "bald" which is always an interesting experience. We had great conversation, amazing food, and I loved getting "out" as it hasn't been a priority as of late. Sunday the girls met for lunch and then a bit of shopping (again courtesy of Norma babysitting). We visited Sunday night over popcorn and was a great lead-up to my 2nd last chemo infusion.

So, here we are having a fun chemo session. Lots of magazines to flip through, yummy Good Earth lunch, and lots of laughs. Thank you Leanne, you made it go so fast!

Leanne left that night and I felt fairly well...and then I started to go downhill. It's amazing how much more difficult post-chemo has been getting. The lingering nausea and absolute exhaustion rendered me fairly useless for the week. No working out AT all and lots of sluggish behaviour. And I missed my husband. I was a more than a little pathetic. I did get some good news that week, my PET scan was scheduled for June 22nd.
Regular living took over on my "good" week, but I was still dragging. I managed 2 work-outs with my trainer but between those and doing some errands and regular life maintenance I still wasn't my normal self (whatever that is anymore). Also, there was a lot of build-up to the LAST chemo. Additionally, my head has been swirling around the "next steps" portion of my cancer journey.
I had my labs on Friday May 28th and interestingly my counts were low, neutrophils 1.7. This wasn't worrisome but continues to baffle me although I should know by now to expect the unexpected.

Here is the last mililitre going in...

And...that's it for tonight. So so tired.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh Eyebrows Where Art Thou?

I'm not going to say I've ever had a STRONG eyebrow or bushy caterpillars framing my eyes, but this is a bit ridiculous. There is hardly anything left of my eyebrows and, like most of the other hair on my body, it's fallen out in the most gradual fashion you could imagine. Again, not like I'm a super hairy person, but still, this is basically like having no eyebrow, and as you know, no eyebrow, no expression! I'm "ok" at filling them in with powder, but if they get any thinner, I'm not sure how I'll do it. The other curious hair-related item is that my armpit hair has apparently completely fallen out. This is strange because my leg hair is still growing (yet thin and slowly). I just don't understand (not that I'm exactly MISSING my armpit hair) but, what else is new?

This is my big sister Jo-Ann and I at chemo last week. Unfortunately for her, it was the LONGEST wait ever for a treatment (took over an hour before we were called) and we had a grumpy nurse. Other than that, we were allowed a mostly uninterrupted visit (rare since we both have little ones) which was a treat. Treatment actually went at break-neck speed and we were out of there fairly quickly.

This past week I really started to realize that I'm not bouncing back from treatment as easily as I did at the beginning. Not a shock but I once again cancelled my training appointment, napped a few of the afternoons and went to bed super early every night. The kids (ok the 4 year old) were exhausting at bath/bedtime, mainly because Daddy was in London this week. He's home now until Tuesday (when he goes to Toronto until Wednesday night) and then he leaves Saturday for Scotland. Sigh.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Feeling Introspective and Trying to Get Perspective

I think about my Blog all the time. I have so many thoughts that I'd like to write about but so little time/energy to do so. Some of the thoughts are a bit random. Others are dark. Lots are amusing. Right now, I am feeling as exhausted as I've ever felt (maybe even more than the late days of pregnancy!). I'm sleeping well at night (thanks to Ativan) but it doesn't seem to make a huge dent in the overall tired side effect that is month 5 of chemotherapy. I'm not shocked by this (and neither are my caregivers) but I do feel a little annoyed with my inability to go full tilt.

Things that make me feel good (in random order):

Getting emails from people - especially when they don't complain about me not replying in a timely fashion!

Shopping (mostly online) - especially when it's not for cancer-y things ALTHOUGH I did get to spoil myself at Hermes the other day:

Eating - this is a BAD thing and sometimes causes its own problems - like eating tonnes of salty snacks the other day and getting mouth sores from it (brilliant). I definitely like having my comfort foods though, anything starchy/carby, you name it, I'm eating it.

Working Out - with my trainer I enjoy my work outs (which, due to the previous comments is fortunate) but am only working out about 4 times in 2 weeks. I try not to dwell on this low number, but at the same time, I am starting to gain some weight. Perhaps less eating is in order? Nah.

Fantasizing about vacations - seeing we cancelled all of our trips (California and France) until July, I enjoy thinking about where we will go once I get the green light. We already have a few things booked and I am really excited about getting out of Calgary for a while. I like this city, and fortunately we had a very mild winter, but I don't recall ever being stuck in the city all winter before. It sucked.

Dreaming about being healthy - and dreaming about being back in great shape and taking tennis lessons, playing golf, and being in the sun (although I won't be in the sun much this summer due to side effects of chemo).

Thinking about a big celebration party - we would like to do something, maybe in August? Get super fancied up and feel good about myself, sounds like a good time!

Looking forward to being a "good" Mom again - I try my best. I really do. Sometimes though, with the fatigue especially, it is difficult to have patience. I lose my mind at least 5 times a week I'm sure! I think this will even out once I can become a more active participant in their lives again. Going to the pool, the mall, out for lunch....I can't wait for all of those things!

Looking forward to being present as a wife/partner again - I am extraordinarily lucky to have the husband I do. He's been supportive beyond what I thought was possible and puts up with all of my crankiness and moods. I'm excited to be fun again in his eyes. Here is my incredible man (and btw, I say this EVEN THOUGH I'm mad about all of his travelling this month!!! haha)

Of course, I am also filled with other thoughts these days, especially nearing the end of my treatment. I don't want to write about these thoughts right now. They are there, hidden away in the dark corners of my brain. I have fears and negativity. I am far from the perfect cancer warrior. I am human.

I am still also thinking a lot about the lack of information about blood cancers that is out there. People assume ALL THE TIME that I have breast cancer. Perhaps I need to bring Lymphoma's "sexy back" - not that it ever was sexy (that I know of anyway!!). I will do something for Lymphoma awareness once this is all done. I promise it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still taking it day by day....

This is me and my friend Heather - a true cancer warrior - at my last chemo (#9). Chemo went well, had one of my fav onc nurses and we were in and out without incident, enjoying a nice Good Earth lunch while we were there. Of course, there was the VERY strange fellow across from us who was attending his wife during chemo....actually he spent more time talking about odd science facts then talking to his was definitely a situation where you had to be there to understand - right H?
Anyhoo, after coming off a pretty much sensational 2 weeks prior to this last chemo, I definitely had some expectations that things would be really good (maybe caused by the change in chemo cocktail or something). However, as luck would have it, I had one of the rougher weeks in my chemo history. Mainly I had lots of nausea which was tiring and totally bummed me out. Additionally, it was a busy week with birthdays and the like. Luckily by Friday morning I started turning the corner, and on Saturday I was well enough to take the 4 year old to soccer.
Like I said in the title, I'm still taking it day by day and on Sunday night, after eating birthday junk food all day long, I realized that I'd developed a nice case of mouth sores. Sometimes it feels that I just can't win!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

B+ for CT Results

As quickly as possible I will reveal my results. I've been moping about them all weekend and have not wanted to think about them that much.

My main large tumour on the right side of my neck has shrunk significantly. It is borderline abnormal. There are no other significant lymph nodes on either side of my neck (great news).

The cluster of tumours in my mediastinum (chest) has also shrunk a lot. It is a little bigger than borderline but is still looking pretty good.

There was a measurment of a new lymph node in my right lung. It is VERY small and grew from .4 cm to 1.0cm. 1 cm is still borderline. They aren't too sure what this could be - measurement error or perhaps just something caused by the cold I had/have and the cough I am still fighting.

These weren't rock star results but, overall, were positive in nature. However, me being the person I am, I wanted ROCK STAR. And, to be honest, they had lead me to believe it was possible that the tumours would be totally unremarkable by now. Anyway, I still have 4 treatments (that oughta do it).

My cough is becoming very annoying. I'm being sent for another cardio-pulmonary test, hopefully this week, to see what's going on. I think it's just a lingering cold effect but we need to rule out the Bleomycin causing any serious lung damage.

Last, my labs were bizzarre this week. Neutrophils were 4.5. I have no idea what that is all about and nobody seemed to be able to offer an explanation. Perhaps it was cutting back the Vinblastine? Perhaps it's just a crazy one-off? Very confused about that one (and my WBC was high and RBC was low). Who knows? What I DO know is that I had 2 weeks of feeling, dare I say it, normal and I really enjoyed them. Hopefully tomorrow doesn't send me off in the other direction.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scan and Such

I have complete and utter disdain for CT Scans. Contrast drink tastes like copier fluid (or at least a "light" version of it). The last few cups you have to drink of it trigger the gag reflex (1.5L is the norm). Then you change into your gown and robe. Then you nearly freeze to death until they can cover you in warm blankies (cold because the lack of clothing AND the fact that you just drank 1.5L of cold fluid). Then you lie on the table. Then you get a large iv needle dropped in you. Then you wait for the dye to be shot through you. This particular sensation is definitely the WORST part of a ct scan. First you feel a warm sensation running through your innards and that is quickly followed by an indescribable taste in your mouth and then you feel like you are going to pee yourself. If you are lucky (like me) they shoot the dye through twice. Once for the lower parts (abdomen and pelvis) and once for the upper parts (neck). I know it's just a scan. You would think that after 8 treatments of chemo that I'd "butch up" a bit, but cts are gross. Plus, you have to wait a week to get your results. Sigh. I'll get my report card on Friday at my regular check-up appointment.

My husband shaved my head for me today. My hair was looking really strange. There were definite bald patches and the little bit of length I did have actually sort of made my scalp ache when I would take off my head covering. It was VERY interesting to see me so close to bald. First of all, I knew I had a couple of small scars from stitches but had never seen them before. Second, we discovered a "stork bite" birthmark at the back of my neck/bottom of my head (it's kind of neat because my littlest girl has one there too). Third (and now I will sound like a braggart but whatev, I have cancer, what can you say?), I have a GREAT head shape! Fourth, I look REALLY sick when I don't have any make-up on. I have provided a photo for you but please be warned, it's HIDEOUS!! Ok maybe not hideous but I definitely look cancer-y.

Also note my lack of eyebrows....they are slowly falling out and are super blonde to begin with...

Sorry to scare you like that. The reality is that you'll likely never see me with no make-up, BUT, I see myself like this a lot. Sometimes it is hard to face. Other times I honestly just have to laugh. Luckily I am going through a "good" stage right now and can find the humour in the otherwise grotesque!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Numero Huit

The eighth treatment has come and gone and I must be on some kind of upswing here! My attitude has been improving and I'm feeling like the end is in sight. I had an amazing Easter weekend. I was blessed with some time to go shopping with a friend on Saturday and it was so nice to get out like a normal person! Saturday night Ron and I got to go out for a fancy going-away dinner for some of our best friends, and Sunday was a fun Easter day with egg hunt, and lovely dinner with family and friends.

Here is my friend Lana and I at treatment yesterday:

Thank you Lana for the visit - it was exactly what I needed yesterday to get through the infusion!

I'm determined to have a good week this week. I am still battling my tummy issues but am trying to remain upbeat. Part of what's made this possible is actually letting myself "let go" a bit and not worry so much about everything being perfect. Also, I'm back to the art of planning and lists so that I feel a little more in control of my situation. I am really missing working out and am hoping that I can start working that back in to my routine.

Then again, this is Tuesday. Normally I don't feel "bad" until late Wednesday. Hopefully my new 'tude can hold regardless. Additionally, I have my big CT scan on Thursday morning. I hate CT scans. All that contrast drink and then the IV dye. Yuck. However, it's at 7am and hopefully won't wreck the ENTIRE day!

My head has been swirling with lots of thoughts these days. A close friend forwarded me a very interesting article that I am going to link here because I totally GET this woman! I hope you will take the time to read it and take something from it, perhaps a different way of thinking about people who are fighting this crappy disease.
Food for thought anyway!