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!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

3 Weeks of....

Where to start? The last 3 weeks have really been my worst since this whole cancer nightmare started. I've had to dig deep (and I thought I already knew how to do that!) and even when I dug to China, I still cracked a few times. Here's a synopsis of the last 2 weeks (as I already blogged about my 1st bout of tummy trouble):

(photo of me getting treated on the 22nd of March with Hubs by my side)

It felt like I was over the abdominal/bowel/tummy issues. I had some new products to use to combat what was going on. I was starting to feel better and actually had one of the "easier" chemo weeks (in terms of my health) since I've started, except that my litttlest one got sick with another coughing cold. She barked for a couple of nights, I took her to the doctor and I actually felt a bit ashamed....because I was worried that her cold would keep my husband and I from heading to Vancouver Island for his Grandma's 90th birthday. I had asked for, and received special permission to go on this weekend trip. My counts have been so good that S wasn't worried I would get sick from the plane or something and I was really looking forward to surprising Grandma at the special dinner (and meet up with family) and also to have a change of scenery, if only for 48 hours. Luckily, the little pipsqueak started to improve and with some help from friends and family we were able to go to Sidney on Friday night.

In fact, on Friday I felt well enough and strong enough to go work-out with my trainer (which I hadn't done in a couple of weeks). I had a reasonably good performance and it really buoyed my spirits. I started to feel excited about the trip and couldn't wait to get on that plane. But, waiting in the airport for the flight, I started to get a very sore throat and run a low-grade fever (yes, I had my thermometer with me). I felt brutal that night but a bit better the next day so maybe it was just a chemo effect? Saturday night at bedtime (9:30?!) I began coughing and that was the start of the cold. My bowels also started to act up so by the time I came home I was wrecked. I think Monday was one of my worst days in recent memory. My body was just not co-operating, I wanted to crawl under a rock.
(this is me enjoying the fresh sea air in Sidney)

Tuesday I talked to S and she wanted me back at the hospital for a chest x-ray, abdominal x-ray, and labs. Yay. More time at the Tom Baker. However, it was a very interesting visit. The chest x-ray was all clear (meaning the cough was definitely due to a viral cold, not an infection or from chemo drugs), the abdominal x-rays showed little change from 2 weeks ago, and the labs were "predictable". Predictable? My neutrophils counted 2.7! Normally (and I normally have my labs done 4 days after I got these done) my neutrophils are 1.3ish (1.0 is the standard required to continue chemo). I asked how it was possible that they could be so high, especially given that I had a bad cold to fight. The doctor explained that it was what she would have predicted - the neutrophils are working extra hard to fight the cold and it was a very good sign that my bone marrow is healthy and that I could actually produce that number of cells. "Cool", I said, "but what about my bowels?, I don't think I can live with this pain for much longer". My doc gave me another new prescription to try, but she also offered an explanation as to why I was suffering so much and what we can do going forward. They think that one of my chemo drugs, Vinblastine, is to blame for my misery. How she explained it is that in some people, the vinblastine basically stuns the nerves in the bowels, thereby slowing or stopping the ability for them to contract. SO, we are going to back off my blast of vinblastine for my next couple of chemos and see if that helps at all. Off I went with hope in hand.

Wednesday I was feeling quite a bit better. Still coughing but almost had a full night's sleep. I had an amazing massage and she even did some abdominal massage to help my poor belly. Today I felt the best I'd felt in a long while. The new drug seems to be helping, I had a good night's sleep, and had fun with my kids. A ray of sunshine in a mostly gloomy 3 week stretch of struggling with health issues.