Monday, March 22, 2010

Its A Wrap

I'm done with Chemo. It feels good to have reached another milestone in my treatment plan. Although, I've still got a couple of weeks left to experience all of the side effects while the taxol does its business in my body. With what now seems to be the norm, I felt great on Friday. Saturday a little worse and yesterday, not very good at all. No nausea or anything, but extreme aches in my knees and legs and then just overall soreness. Luckily I had the Sunday papers to keep me occupied. And Amelia and Miles made me chocolate cake. I'm really starting to worry about my tendency to self medicate with desserts! But hey, whatever works right now!

And the snow - I'm really hoping this weekend was its last hurrah. We got a lot - maybe 6 inches or more. It is really hard to tell because it was blowing around so much. Saturday it was actually kind of pretty, but by Sunday I was sick of it. Luckily with highs in the 40's and sunshine today, it shouldn't be around much longer. I'll be looking for green!

And my new tennis shoes have arrived. They actually arrived Thursday morning, before I left for my treatment. I took this as some kind of good sign, because UPS never delivers to us in the morning. They are a great fit, and I can't wait to try them out on the court.

Off for more coffee!

Have a spectacular day!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hi Ho Hi Ho

Its off to my last chemo I go! I've got my ipod, today's NYT and my book already packed in my Bruce bag. My nephew gave me a Bruce Springsteen tote bag. I love it! I just started The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. I can already tell you it is very good.

But I'm not feeling quite excited yet that this is the last one. Part of me worries that it won't be the last one. That something will happen down the road which will require me to have chemo again. That I'll never be positive that the cancer is completely gone. Also, not knowing whether I'll have radiation kind of dampens the moment. I really don't mind if I have to have the radiation, but not knowing what the next step is - thats what bothers me. I've I always been like that. I like to know what the big picture is and have a plan.

On the other hand, I will be excited to have my hair back again. I took the boys in for a hair cut and got to visit a little with our stylist. I miss her, I miss getting my hair cut. I told her that hopefully by June I'll need her services again. I am also excited that all of the little annoying things that keep me from feeling really great will go away. People always ask how I'm doing. I generally feel good but with a long list of exceptions. The tingling in my hands and now my feet. The total exhaustion I feel by 8:00 pm. Not being able to carry on a normal conversation because I have to struggle to remember the names of good friends or everyday objects. The feeling absolutely fantastic one minute and then having to go lie down the next minute. The dry eyes and aching knees and back. Yes, I'll be very happy to get rid of this list!

And I've got new tennis shoes on the way and my partner is back from luxuriating in Mexico. The weather is getting warmer and there are hints of sunshine. I actually want to cook. Summer swim season will be here soon, and Michael and Amelia are already practicing soccer. I saw a flock of robins yesterday. Good times will be here shortly.

I just need to get through my last round of chemo and the SNOW on Saturday. Yes, I think we've just about made it through this.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Love This!

I loved this card a friend sent me, so I wanted to share. She also sent tons of food including chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I couldn't stop eating them. Luckily they were very small, so I'm sure they were low calorie. And I would just eat one at a time. I've found this technique works very well with all of the desserts we get. I did this with the chocolate bundt cake that had chocolate chips and some kind of chocolate filling in it. I would never have a whole slice, but would just cut off a bite here and there. I'm a firm believer in eating small amounts frequently!

Things are going pretty well this week. Although I've still have quite a bit of discomfort from both the joint pain and tingly hands, luckily it is very manageable. Lulu and I have even been walking a few days. The walks are way slower than we are used to, but I figure at this point it is just good to get back in the habit of going. And even just this little exercise feels so good!

Speaking of good, I noticed there is now green grass mixed in with the brown this morning. We have had such a yucky winter which is why spring is going to be marvelous. And then summer! We finally have our summer vacation planned and booked. We're going to Madeline Island, WI which is in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. We've rented a house on the island for a week. Although it won't be quite the same as camping, we're in the woods and no TV. Our deck looks out over the lake. Jim and the kids will try kayaking around the islands and there will be lots of biking and hiking. I can't wait!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Check'n Off the List

Well another treatment down and one more to go. It really is amazing now when you look at my action plan for treatment that the things checked off list is longer than the things left to do. Plus, I reallly believe the worst is behind me. And that first chemo round really takes the cake on being the worst.

Thursday's infusion went ok. The only downside was the wait, over an hour before they got anything started. They were so busy! The drill is you have to first have your blood drawn to make sure you're good to go for treatment. They want to make sure your white blood count is high enough among other things. Gotta make sure you are not going to get bogged down by infection. Mine has always been fine. It takes about 20 minutes for them to run this test. Once you pass the blood hurdle, then they'll request the drugs you'll be getting for the treatment. Depending on how busy they are, this takes about 10 or 15 minutes. Once everything is a go, I get what I call my warm up feed. These are the drugs that include Benadryl and steriods to help me tolerate the actual chemo treatment. This "drip" takes about 30 minutes. Then I'm finally good to get the taxol. This is the long one and takes about 3 hours.

These drugs are all fed intravenously. I think I've mentioned before I have a port which is a little gadget in my chest directly hooked to a vein. All of my IV's are done through the port. This makes my treatments so much easier, because they aren't having to search for a vein every time. And I discovered the other day, after being poked so much your veins can develop a sensitivity which makes it hurt that much more when they stick the needles in. I had to have surgery to put the port in, and I guess I'll eventually have one to take it out. But totally worth it.

I also met with my oncologist on Thursday. Even he has started talking about me wrapping up treatment. It really is exciting to think I might be winding this thing up. Basically he still says that although he can't predict my future, my outlook is good. I've responded to treatment well and they were able to remove the tumor with clean margins. And although I did have cancer in one of my lymph nodes, he said he would have been more surprised if I had not had any. So for now the last hurdle to cross will be radiation. I'll meet with my radiologist on April 2, and he will determine whether I need radiation or not. While I'm anxious for this to be over, I want to make sure we have done EVERYTHING to kill ALL of the cancer cells in my body. So if 6 weeks or so of radiation is what it takes, so be it.

I'm lov'n this Spring weather, and I hope you are too. I'd even rather have 50 degrees and spring rain than 20 degrees and snow.

Have a spectacular day!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ok, I'm going high tech and adding pictures to the blog. Well, a picture at least. My hair had been starting to grow back and we had ONE 50 degree day, so Amelia and I dashed outside to snap a few pics. She took this one of me with all of my new hair. I was really so proud! :) But, alas it is now back to prison camp chic. The hair has been falling out now for over a week and has gotten spotty patches. Although its not quite as uncomfortable as last time, it bothers me to have a hat or wig on. So I spend the day putting my hat on because my head is cold and then taking it off because my head is itchy. And again, it feels like some invisible munchkin is continuely pressing a whisk broom to me head.

And while the hair loss is familiar, I've developed a new side effect. The tingly hands, otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy. Carrie had warned me about this. At times it just feels like my hands are severely chapped. Then it progresses to a tingling sensation very similar to when your arm has gone to sleep, and then it feels like pin pricks as you move it to get the blood flowing. It is not agonizing pain, but very uncomfortable. Sitting down and remaining very calm seems to be the only thing that helps. I am taking a supplement (can't remember the name) that is also supposed to help with this and the joint pain.

I'm off this morning for my 3rd chemo treatment. After this I'll only have 1 more. I'll also meet with my oncologist, so we'll see what he has to say.

Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather we are finally having. And if good weather hasn't reached you yet - it will be there soon!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Book List

I had a request to post a list of the books I've been reading and to rate them. I do want to mention, that my taste has been for books that are purely entertaining and aren't depressing. So here is my oh so sophisticated ratings and a few comments. Two good sites I use to check out books are Books at the New York Times and Amazon.

Here you go!

Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum series - There are 15 in the series and I read them all from 1 thru 15. These books will never make any literary great list, but I loved them. They are perfect to read when battling cancer, on an airplane or at the beach. Stephanie and her friends are so funny, I literally laughed out loud when reading. And if you've got any Jersey friends, you will remember them fondly - all of their accents, phrases etc are perfectly captured here. Now don't get your panties in a bunch!

New York - Edward Rutherfurd - I liked this book, but if you aren't a big detailed history fan, it will get tedious. Obviously the main character is New York City and starts with the early Dutch settlers and goes all the way thru 9/11. The focus is definitely more on the history of NYC than on the family it follows.

A Gate at the Stairs - Lorrie Moore - I wound up just liking this book when I thought I was going to love it. It is beautifully written, but I felt it just never came through with a coherent story line. It just seemed to kind of jump around without pulling it all together. It didn't leave me wowed at the end.

The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith - I had heard of the movie, but never the author until I read an article about a recent biography in the NYTimes. This book was written in the 50's and is about a guy who murders a wealthy "boy" in Europe and assumes his identity. But it is really so much more. I would highly recommend.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett - I know this is on all the book club lists right now, but I really enjoyed it. A fast read and makes you feel good at the end. It kind of reminds me of Shawshank Redemption in that the characters perservere in a deplorable situation.

Sara Petresky - VI Warshawski series - I read the first 2 in the series and tried to start on the 3rd, but just couldn't get into it. Part of it is the old books just seem so dated that they are boring. Some day, I might try a more recent one and see if it improved at all.

Sue Grafton - This is the ABC author (A is for Alibi), again these are just ok - didn't thrill me.

The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington - I found this book on a 100 Best Novels of all time list and I loved it. It was written around 1912 or so and was still so timely today. One of the themes was the build up of the suburbs at the expense the original city - if only we'd learn our lesson!

A Friend of the Family - Lauren Grodstein - very good.

That Old Cape Magic - Richard Russo. I think I liked Empire Falls better, but this was good

Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld - I liked this.

American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld - on the NYT 2008 Notable Novels list. Loved this book. Liberal wife is married to conservative US president. You can't help but think of Laura Bush.

Ten Days in the Hills - Jane Smiley - good. I love Jane Smiley, but this isn't my favorite book of hers.

Commencement - J Courtney Sullivan - good. I got this off of a summer beach list in the NYT. And basically it lived up to my expectations as an entertaining read.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet - Reif Larsen - I think I'll say very good. The only reason I hesitate is the ending is lame. The rest of the book is marvelous.

Let me know if you have any recommendations!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

IT Took Over

I had mentioned last post that Jim had gotten the stomach flu. By Friday afternoon at 5:00, Miles, Michael and I all had it. And IT was awful. The kind of flu that totally wipes you out and makes you hate your whole body. The kind where you are soooo miserable you can't even sleep, so you lie in bed and wait for daylight. The kind that lays flat 8 and 11 year olds to the point where they can't even drag themselves to the computer or video game controller. Amelia gave it a valiant fight by quarantining herself, but finally succumbed Sunday afternoon. After the initial 12 hours of intense agony, you feel better but still don't have much energy or appetite for 3 or 4 days. Thats the kind of flu we had. Unless of course you are Jim and had to care for the rest of us. Then you were only sick for 2 days.

But we are all on the mend now. The boys went back to school yesterday, and Amelia went back today. The boys, however, are back home today and out the rest of the week because of parent teacher conferences. They are glad they are not having to waste good days off from school being sick. And I'm happy we are all feeling better.

Feeling better, so we can think of green grass and blue skies and yellow sunshine. And picture the redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. And figure out how I'm going to get my lilac bouquet this year.