Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2 months later

I'm feeling so much better now, 2 months after my last chemo. The watering eyes, the numb fingers and toes and a few other bothersome side-effects are either gone or almost gone. If I over do it-not enough rest or too much activity the side-effects start 'knocking at my door'. I guess it is just another way for my body to tell me to ease off and take it easy.
A couple of weeks ago, John and I climbed from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake. This is a 5 mile round trip, an elevation gain of around 1500 ft and we end up at 10,000 ft before descending to the Lake. For both me and John to make this trip
gave us a great feeling of accomplishment. John had a recent Angioplasty and I hadn't done any trail hiking in a year.
This last weekend we were invited along with our hiking group up to one of the member's cabins in the mountains. We were at 8500 ft among Aspen with mountain streams and waterfalls and towering mountains around us. It was a sublime weekend of fun hiking and eating. After being surrounded by up to 15 wonderful friends, it felt strangely empty to return home. I did indeed miss my hiking family.
I will post 3 photos: An Aspen glade, a summer sunset in Ridgecrest and the hiking group photo. Our group's designated main video and photo guy had to time the photo and then hop into the picture. Quite a few in the picture did over 10+ mile hikes up to over 11,000 ft several days in a row... others of us did more moderate hikes or some did lovely walks along the mountain stream nearby and the oldest in the group had just turned 86.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2, 2009

It has been a long road to this point. I'm feeling a little better. The low red cell count is slowly coming up, although I'm 2 points shy of being on the low mark of normal. Seems I've been there mostly most my life. No wonder I've never had the energy of most people. Mom said that she was always on the low end too. So my energy is coming back and with it the ability to laugh at a few funny things. Also, I can get something done besides eat and sleep. I've started thinking about the other side of this ordeal and about trips I'd like to make. Before, there was NO imagination for anything, no humor, no nothing. I am still pretty much a dial tone on most things .... seems all of those things take energy. On Sunday, I was in Albertsons and I slipped on some water and both feet went out from under me and I fell on my right hip. Fortunately, I don't think I did any real damage...just bruised a bit and my lower back and hip is sore. But that afternoon, I walked my left foot into a chair leg and broke some tiny bones in my 4th toe and joint. So my foot is so sore and it hurts to walk so there goes my major form of exercise. boo hoo.

I went in for a mammogram and that was clear and then got a CT scan in preparation for radiation...then tattooed so they maintain their aim with the radiation gun. I had my first radiation today.

So besides my foot being out of whack, my back being sore, I doing pretty good. I'm still not much use to anybody but I hope things will improve.

John went to Bakersfield this week and got a stent put into one of the arterties for his heart. He's doing OK but has 2 medications to take now where as he didn't take any. So we've been watching Wimbleton .... talk about being couch potatoes!! well, it is just for a short time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hummingbird Saga

This morning (June 2nd) as I pulled out of the driveway and started down the street, I noticed bird crap on the front window. I turned on the windshield wipers and spray to wash the window. It sort of came clean but then I noticed a pine cone(?) strange leaf (?) stuck to one of the windshield wipers. I turned them on again and the thing didn't budge...it was still stuck there. I was weirded out by this little brown gray shape that didn't really look like any pine cone or leaf we'd have around here. So I stopped the car at the corner and got out to inspect. To my horror it was a baby hummingbird attached to the wiper. I felt it had to be dead especially after what I just put it through. I inspected it and it seemed somewhat alive although it looked to be in shock, it was wet from the windshield wiper fluid and even though it had some feathers, it was clear, it had a ways to go. It had to have fallen out of a nest that was in the tree my car was parked under. I got a kleenex and wrapped it around the little fella... (he had iridescent green feathers just showing on his back) and tried to pull him off the windshield wiper. He was holding on for dear life. I put him on my lap and drove back to the house. I inspected the tree and fortunately found the nest within reach. There was a bird already there and I wondered if this little guy had been shoved out of the nest. I figured I had to give him one more chance and tried to deposit him on top of the nest. After several unsuccessful attempts, that resulted in him falling to the ground because the occupant brother didn't want to give up his spot, I got the little guy to grab hold...and there I left him, perched on top of his brother in the nest.
After several hours out I returned home and took a look. Both little guys were nestled in the nest now and I took a picture. If that little guy survives, he'll have stories to tell.
After returning that day, I checked on the little hummers and found the 2 little guys nestled side by side in the nest. I checked maybe one or two more times the next couple of days and saw near the end of day, the mother and 2 Jr. hummers in the nest. Then about June 5th, the weather turned colder and the wind was blowing. I went out just about sunset and peered at the nest. Nestled in that nest were 4 hummingbirds. I figured it had to be mom, dad and the 2 little ones. The nest stretches to accommodate as it is made from tiny vegetable matter, black- widow spider webs that give it strength and their great stretchable quality and then down presumably from the hummingbird's plumage. A few days later, the nest, all stretched out, was an empty abode. The family had taken flight.

June 9, 09 more musings

To take a trip to the darker side without specific details, there has been a number of other problems that I've had to deal with. For one, I continue to have some neuropathy that I took medication for the soreness particularly in the hands so I couldn't bear to touch anything. The medication helped but I'm not sure it helped with the numbing. Still fingers and toes are numb. One evening, I looked at my feet and they looked like the feet of a corpse... they were gray and my big toes that had been red were turning blue, the nails looked discolored (one still is). I was freaked out. I had had a good day...done my moderate walk where I was out maybe 30 or 40 minutes for brisk walking and then I did weights later. But I put my thongs on and went out to walk around the block...short distance. When I got back my feet looked better with more circulation. And then I soaked them in a warm Epsom salt bath. My finger nails are discolored, my tear ducts have stopped ducting tears so my eyes water a lot and so it looks like I'm crying much of the time, my nose drips terribly sometimes. But I think it is getting a little better. The nurse told me to take 50 mg of B6 twice a day. So I just added that to my pile of pills. B6 is for the nerve damage that is happening. This is a hard road to be sure. I haven't even gone into the horrible constipation that comes after the chemo treatments.

My internist is pretty much against me doing much exercise and activity. She says I need to give my body time to heal and go through this. I have tried to find a happy middle ground where I can keep up some semblance of fitness and still do OK. I feel better anyway after a little exercise besides it helps me stay in a positive mood throughout this thing. I just don't try and do too much. It seems much of my life has been trying to find that elusive point of balance in life. I just thought that maybe when one is at that point of balance it would feel like hosts of angels dancing on the head of the pin.

I had a massage right after chemo this time and it sure felt good as it does always. My muscles really need to have the massage to help them through this ordeal. Fresh made vegie juice is always helpful. Must do that again real soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5, 2009 - after the 6th Chemo

Well folks: the span of time after my 5th Chemo was quite hard. I got a little too tired doing not much. I was - well depressed. I had to remind John that I am usually a self starter, basically positive with each new day, and only a small percentage of my life has been feeling as blue as I was then feeling. Then I had my labs and found out my red blood cell count had dropped even more. Chemo does that and being always on the verge of anemic all my life didn't help. I decided that taking iron pills and extra folic acid pills and eating iron rich foods just wasn't doing it. It was time to call in the big guns and buy either some calves liver or some Braunschweiger and start having that in a sandwich daily. Almost immediately I felt an improvement. Back in my late teens to my 40's, I'd always buy calves liver or Liverwurst when I started to feel down and that would do it for me. Then I read that those foods are not that good for us and they add to high cholesterol which by then I was told to avoid so I stopped buying the stuff. Well...it's all a matter of balance isn't it? So it will be interesting if my labs reflect the extra iron in my system. If not, then chalk it up to the mightly placebo effect. In which case, maybe I'll try a Shaman next.
Obviously, I'm feeling pretty good that I'm on the last of 6 chemo sessions and hopefully will only continue to feel better. I had the 6th session 2 days ago and so far have felt pretty good...weak/tired which is normal but better than last session. I've kept up exercise: walking -distance dependant on energy but a min. of 30 minutes per day. Also weights and some yoga on the patio. Lovely. So I feel good that I've continued with my exercise regime that I began before this whole process started and I've even improved upon it. My knees are in good shape now where-as a year ago it looked like I'd have to have knee surgery because they hurt so much. The improvement is due to the weights. The pads in my knees are still thin so no climbing mountains or carrying heavy loads but I can walk and do moderate hiking. How grateful I am that I could make that improvement with just working out with weights 3 times a week. Now the muscles do the work and there's less wear and tear on the pads.
Next up, radiation starts sometime after July 1st. A friend who is now going through radiation, said it is a lot easier than chemo. Good! Something more to feel thankful for.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 23, 2009

I met with the Dr. on Wednesday. I have one more chemo to go and then a rest of about a month and then 7 weeks of radiation apparently. Then some tests and no more chemo if the coast is clear. John said I have to give myself permission to take it easy and rest up for the next chemo and then STAY inactive until I'm over the hard part. Except some activity actually improves the way one feels; fine line - fine line between many things being either good or bad for one. Well, I get another opportunity. The tiredness I feel is experienced by everyone going through it. It isn't tired like sleepy. It is called the 'lead for blood' feeling. Dragging isn't even a good adjective for what one experiences. My hands and nails are looking weird; weird coloration, the nails are discolored from the chemo... basically they poison the body till the body is just about to revolt big time and then they stop for a while and try to poison it some more. Then comes the rebuilding part and returning to 'normal'. I understand it differs greatly per person. One never knows if doing more is the right thing or doing less. It used to be the thing to have people rest for a week or so after childbirth or operations but now they get you up as soon as possible and start one walking about. So, my point exactly...
So another thing that is a conundrum; in Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan- Schreiber he mentions becoming a different person through this process. How one lady learned to embrace her martial attitude by taking Karate. That helped her overcome her cancer. The lesson here is the importance of "terrain", the effects of awareness and the synergy of natural forces. That might sound like just so many words but those three things were summarized in the last chapter. There are various ways people have of learning these things. For each it might be a bit different. But in each case, I would guess it is getting to know oneself better, knowing and respecting one's boundaries and yet at the same time (or is it other times) one flows with life and is more accepting. OK...see what I mean? did you see an interesting paradox there? To me, it seems that Life's lessons seem to come in the form of paradox and here is a case in point: flow with life (let go of the judgements) but know your terrain and respect that. I think I get it. I've always been a slow learner... the last in the room to catch on. Well, I have a little more time in the process. I pray I get it!!
Today I liked wearing my wig. And yesterday I made a few new ties for my 'hair' that I like and learned to tie a neat head scar differently. I'll get it mastered just about when my hair grows back in. But then I'll have alternatives to those bad hair days. See, there's always the bright side if one looks for it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chem #5

Two days ago, I was surprised by a fabulous rose bouquet that Bonnie ordered on behalf of herself, Anyra and Matt. There was a snafu over shipping and me being home to receive them. Somehow, I got a double order - shipped from Ecuador which apparently is a major rose growing center. So here is a photo of the 2 big bunches together, each delivered on consecutive days. They are so fabulous to look at and the delicate variety in color is a joy to see.
The day of Chemo, I was feeling a little blue to begin with which didn't help. I went in at 11 AM and didn't get hooked up till 2:30. I was there for 6 hours for what should have been a 3 hour apt. All the chairs were filled and only one nurse. I wanted to leave and say "No problem, I can skip this one.", but I realized that wasn't really an option. My mood was definitely better upon leaving. They are just understaffed for the number of people under treatment. Now 2 days later, I recognize that predictable cycle. I took it easy yesterday and now it is early morning so I need to get out for a walk before the heat hits. The birds sound so happy this time of day.
Later... great walk and then did my weights. After, I fixed a fabulous omelet with onions, chard, tomato, a little ham and cheese. Maybe a nap next?
It's hard looking at a possible 6 more rounds of chemo after the 6 weeks? of radiation. I hear of others from other areas that get away with less. I wonder, how would one know what the best course of action is?
In the meantime, the roses are lovely, the birds make such beautiful sounds in the morning. I think we've almost decided on the flooring for the bathrooms. Today was around 105' in the shade and we are making our adjustments to this inevitable season. We wait till it cools off before venturing outdoors.

May 11, 2009

I have chemo #5 day after tomorrow. I’m trying not to think about it. A day at a time as they say. I feel like I ought to be using this time for something amazingly wonderful. What would that be? Yesterday was great because after returning from Keeler, I had numerous little projects, most of which involved sewing. The outcome on all fronts was satisfying. I’d love to tackle some other projects but I’m not capable of doing them without help. My hands, as I found out yesterday, have a limit before they start getting sensitive to everything I touch.
I’m amazed that I’m still conflicted about my lack of hair, so deep is the programming about how we women look. I can get dressed for the day but I feel I look ridiculous until I put the wig on. The outfit seems unbalanced and my sex is yet, to my eyes, undefined. I doubt I’d have the same reaction were I in a community of Buddhist renunciates. It seems to me that when all persons are bald, it would remove something of the roles that we need to play. That in itself is an appealing idea for 2 reasons. I’d of course like to feel I fit in and it is also a compelling idea to be a part of something that involves others, with a schedule of expected activities even though, ironically, I love my mostly unscheduled life. So life is a series of contradictions and sometimes, I feel at odds with that.
The tiredness is something that has stayed with me throughout these last 3 weeks. Even though I’ve stayed up on exercise, this laconic mood has overtaken me. I think it might be due to the heat…which unfortunately, is just getting started.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chemo #4

This time around it is a little better mainly because of the medication I'm taking to mitigate the effects of the Taxotere which is one of the chemo drugs. Thankfully, my hands and feet aren't as sore. My energy level isn't very high but then I remind myself where I'm at in the cycle and know that in a few days, I'll be feeling better. The weather here is changeable as it is everywhere in the spring; a few days of warm weather followed by winds and cooler weather and then turning warm again. Today is one of the chilly days. It seems to go with my energy level. John even built a fire in the stove today to take the chill off the air. He hooked up the swamp cooler last week because temperatures were going into the high 90's outside, but as always, it gets cooler again. Well, life is change and change is what it is all about. How to embrace the change without resisting it is the question.
We went to a talk this AM about water in the west. Seems we're all headed for tougher times as water resources are getting more scarce and the population is growing. I look at the landscaping, such that it is, and wonder how little I could get by on without endangering the plants. And just when I was starting to contemplate adding a little garden. It's one of those days when I feel if I had a good dose of chocolate, it would set everything right!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

1 week till #4

I'm counting down the time because I am counting this week as hopefully a good week. I've continued to have problems with sore hands ... and I had to stop 'walking' for about 5 days to let my feet heal. Seems this is a reaction to one of the chemo drugs and I can get a prescription for it apparently but I am uncomfortable about layering drug upon drug but I shall give it a try because the problem is debilitating. Also, I am still low on the red blood cell count and so I bought the recommended iron supplement and folic acid that is also recommended hoping to avoid a more drastic remedy. The low red count is also a side effect.
On a positive note, I walked again today with no ill effect and did my little weight 'circuit' that seems to be so beneficial and as usual, felt great afterwards.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chemo #3

This is the 10 day period when things should get a little better. I had my third chemo a week ago yesterday. This time, I walked only in my neighborhood...taking either the 1.5 mile or the 2 mile route. This seemed to work and I felt a little better. My hands were doing better but my feet were sore...and now both hands and feet are sore. Hopefully this will pass in a few days and I'll have that 'good' final 10 day period before chemo #4. Anemia was threatening to be a problem so I ate some beef to help the numbers. We'll see. I didn't want to take the iron pills because of the constipation factor as that already is a problem in the first week or so after chemo...so I ate the beef but now my joints are stiffening up and starting to ache. They are great if I don't eat meat...no problem. So it is a balancing act, trying to find the way to get through this. My mornings are for getting things done and afternoons are laid back (no choice there) and the brain isn't as good either. I just can't fathom any complexities. Life simple, laid back, no hurry.... only an American would complain about that with our driving work ethic.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Incidental notes

My schedule of Dr. appointments is confusing for people. It was confusing for me too. I get the schedule for a couple weeks at a time from the Dr.'s ofc and then I transfer it to my little calendar I carry in my wallet and the wall calendar by the phone. There was even a 4th calendar at first but I eliminated that quickly. Oh yes, there is a 4th calendar which is on an Excel spreadsheet and I send that to John as he relates well to that form of date keeping. My confusing schedule goes like this: I get a chemo treatment on a Wednesday and then I count forward from there and the 4th Wednesday forward is when I get another treatment. In between there are basically 2 groups of 10 days. The week after chemo, I get a Leukine shot Monday thru Friday of that week. That helps to build up white blood cells in my body. Every Monday I go in for a Lab to check my blood to see how my body is tolerating the treatment. Every Wednesday I show up for a Herceptin infusion that takes about 1/2 hour (in and out in about 1 hour). Lay all of that on top of each other and you have the schedule. The first 10 days I have to take it easy. Especially the first 5 days. My mouth and hands are sore and even though I might be feeling fine, if I overdo my days, I have repercussions. The final 10 days, I'm feeling quite normal except my hands look terrible as the spots and some peeling skin remain from the reaction in the first week to the chemo (and probably over using them).
I was told not to use commercial mouth wash and the here is a superior recipe the Dr.'s office gave out. I made up a solution of water, salt and baking soda...
let's see.. It is 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt to 1 cup of water. I swish that around after gently brushing teeth.
I may have written about this already but I continue to exercise too.... that being a cornerstone to my well being. On a 'hard' day, I do a small circuit in the neighborhood ... not quite 2 miles and up to at least 3+ miles if I'm feeling really good or I have been going with my hiking group in the AM's for around 3 miles in the hills. I do a small weight circuit in the backyard 3 X a week. So that really helps. A little yoga also is very beneficial.
Here's a marvelous quote from a gal who's going through the same experience. This sums up the secret to the experience.
"I've learned to stay in the moment when I think it's taking too long, and embrace the experience. If I perceive it as an observer, it almost doesn't feel like it's me going through it...almost."
The balance between activity and no-activity for me is important...but I generally feel better if I can keep moving and doing things. There are those times (after lunch) that I've climbed into bed for a short nap.... it does wonders.
A few people missed my bald head so I'll include a pix of that... more like a buzz cut as not all the hair has fallen out. The other one is with one of the wigs that I had professionally cut. In the last 20 years, my hair hasn't been one of my strong points. So I thought it wouldn't be a big deal to have my hair shaved off. The experience plays with my vanity. But the most freeing feeling is wearing nothing on my head and of course, getting ready in the morning is a snap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Reminiscing and Future Plans

I pulled out a couple of pictures from my album from times that stand out as fantastic times and possible have similar adventures again. The criteria here is 'possible'. I'd love to experience northern Scotland again and hike in some of those high misty areas with another group. That time I was with an Australian based company that every year took their employees from around the world on a trip somewhere. I was lucky enough to be working for them the year they went to England and Scotland. I loved traveling with a group and not having to worry about such basics as where to stay and eat. It is nice to have those small details taken care of so the experience of the journey becomes the focus. Camping in the Scottish Highlands, I couldn't believe that at 11:30 at night, it was still light and then dawn came a little after 3 AM, complete with bird song. Amazing. The other experience was in 1994 and we had just pulled into our camp near the Eureka Sand Dunes in DVNP. There had been a wonderful evening storm and the sunset colors on the clouds and general ambiance was magical. There wasn't a soul around and the silence of the desert soon descended below a star studded night sky. Nothing quite like it. And I must see more of our Southwest. It still calls to me and there are places I want to camp and hike in. Then there is that cruise to Alaska with Anyra which is coming up after I finish 'the treatment'.
And by the way... the wild flowers here are the best since we moved here in 2000. The local Sierra Club decided that the best wildflower hike for miles around was right here in our own hills nearby. There is an amazing display of colors.... best of course in the early morning light.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19

I've been feeling awfully tired last few days and my hands are really sore. Dr.'s say, I need to cut back on activity.... and just take it easy. I can only watch 1 movie at a time... and I don't like TV. Reading can only be done for a short while. It's hard to take it easy! I was also feeling really bad about the wigs... they really are like rugs sitting on top of my head...hot, confining and too too big. I went to a hair salon today that specializes in wig fitting for cancer patients and took 2 of my wigs to her. She promptly trimmed the white one into the best little style. It put wind back into my sails and I was good to go for a few more hours. I'll go in next week and have the other one cut. She told me that ALWAYS wigs are sold with too much hair and one must have them trimmed. The American Cancer Society pays for this service so if you know of anyone like me, needing a wig ... tell them to call the ACS and find out if there is a salon near them that offers this service. I'd like to just go sans hair and probably will once it starts getting hot here but I have to admit, I'm a bit shy about it....because when one is 'swimming upstream', it's nice to not make too many waves doing it.
Today is my Grandson's 10th birthday. Bon said that he announced today that he has left the single digits behind and is now in the double digits. SO even though I didn't get to wish him Happy Birthday in person today when I called...I'm posting this into cyberspace and saying Happy Birthday to you...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2nd Chemo

Yesterday I had my 2nd Chemo treatment. It went well and I was only there 4 hours. So far, I have felt quite well. My hands are more sensitive than usual so I try and not get them wet or wash them too much while still minding rules of cleanliness. Also, if I do the dishes I always wear plastic gloves. I noticed after the first treatment, my heart felt like it was laboring more than usual when I was out walking. I continued walking as usual, breathing deeply and afterward, felt better for the walk as usual.
Towards the end of last week, after my hair had been looking so good I was even holding out hope that I wouldn't loose it, it then started falling out. I don't have much hair to loose and when the brush had much more hair than normal and my back and shoulders were covered with falling hair, I had John give me a close buzz cut. It isn't all that attractive but John, trying to help and add some humor, said I could wear the robes of a Buddhist Nun. I'll pass on that one but I have 3 wigs now and a few hats.
This continues to be an interesting journey with new insights and opportunities for feeling thankful. I appreciate all the prayers, good thoughts and well wishes as they mean so much to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring is Here!

Taken the other morning on our walk. The rains have been good and the desert is blooming. First the lavendar and purple come out, now the yellows are starting along with all the other colors. If we get some good warm days, there will be fields of colors everywhere. It is wonderful and with the morning birdsong, it is a joyful time of year.

March 1

I'm feeling quite well. The thing is, it is only for a limited time and then I have to rest. Worse than with strong FM. When I lay down, I conk out pretty fast and I'll be dreaming. After about 15 or 20 minutes, I feel refreshed and can get up usually and do something else. This is encouraging. Driving up and back from Keeler was hard and I wanted to nap. On the way up I pulled off at a rest stop and had a 15 minute nap before continuing. So it is; "do a little, rest a little" and as a friend said, "Just like the rest of us." I just saw Slumdog Millionaire this afternoon. WOW... good movie but I wasn't prepared for some of the heavy scenes. Still, I see why it won so many awards.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chemo effects

Monday. It's true about being tired and having achy bones. I think it was made worse by taking too much of one of the medications. I confused dose with days so I took too many. No problem apparently as my blood tests looked good today. So with that piece of good news, I'm encouraged to keep doing a little and resting a little. I feel amazingly relaxed because there is no other way to feel with this thing. Although, I'm gazing out the window and the beautiful day - the aftermath of a good warm rain storm and I'm thinking that it would be good to take a walk in all those negative ions out there. Anyra and Al got home to the bay area last night in spite of it looking like they'd be in a tidal wave of rain. The deluge started a few miles from their home.
Now for that walk.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three days later

I'm not one to take medicine - (just say no to drugs) and so here's the first challenge ...keeping it straight; when I took what and at what time. I didn't really want to get into charting my pill progress. Also, my system isn't back to functioning since the treatment and I'm shaky. I little like I've had 6 coffees too many. Challenging my mind to think and focus is another ...and by afternoon, it's nap time. These and other side-effects I'm assured are normal. Anyra and Al being here has been a huge help. We've had fabulous meals and watched all three of the Shreck movies. Those are awesome...and I know they'd be really entertaining on a big screen. A&A leave tomorrow but John will be back from the desert today sometime.
Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. I feel the support and am encouraged by it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Report from the 1st day of chemo

I'm relieved and happy to report that the MRI results from Monday were good. It did not show any active and questionable areas and the margins looked clear. I didn't learn this until yesterday when I met with the Doctor during my first Chemo. Anyra came with me and her cheerful and helpful presence was such a strength and help. The room I was in was large with quite a few barca-loungers which are occupied by people getting chemo throughout the day. Some have much longer treatments. Because this was my first time, they said it might take a little longer but I probably should plan on spending half a day every three weeks. There were many infusions that they dripped into me via the port. Hardly any discomfort at all. So again, the specter of the event and the reality were different. Not as gruesome as one might imagine. The best thing is that I'm staying local so I don't have to drive many miles to another location where there's maybe more people and no-one knows anyone. The staff was friendly and caring. So when I got out of there about 6 hours later, I felt just a little light headed and dizzy...results of the fluorescent lights more than anything. (I must bring a baseball hat next time) After getting home I walked my usual little neighborhood walk which is about 2 miles and takes only just under 1/2 hour and as usual, I felt better after. Anyra and Al being here made it possible for me to relax and take care of myself. They brought me lunch during chemo and then Anyra was making the dinner so I was free to help or rest whichever I felt. I talked to Bonnie later and her encouragement and research and advice about what is helpful was a huge help. What sweeties they have been. I'm so lucky!!
So I'm cautiously optimistic now, just one day after Chemo #1.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009

My left shoulder and chest feels like a 300 lb linebacker socked me. I am assured that will fade. On the financing front, I finally got some additional (supplemental) insurance and also am applying for aide from charitable organizations to cover certain costs that might not be covered by insurance. So now I’ll go broke a little more slowly than before. I am due to start chemo on Feb 18th. It’s busy busy until then and maybe after, I can get some sort of schedule going around all the medical appointments that have to be kept. I also am going to be following a good diet (didn’t I always?) that will improve healing.

February 10, 2009

So I now have a Power Port. I get to wear a purple bracelet identifying it and I carry an identifying card. The experience in the hospital was better than expected. The new Outpatient Pavilion is really beautiful. The decor is wonderfully relaxing. No TV's blaring. Just quiet. the panel over the fluorescent light above the bed was covered with a photo panel of a beautiful autumn scene in a forest by a river bank. The river rocks glistened and I was transported to that spot. The staff was friendly and helpful. Aside from being really looped on Vicodine after getting home that afternoon, I felt pretty good. The Vicodine was hard on my system so I discontinued on the second day.

Saturday, Feb 7, 09:

I'm trying to learn how to post these entries into the blog page and at the same time, bring in a brief update on what's been going on since November when I had an abnormal mammogram. The lumpectomy was on Dec. 19, 2008. The worst so far was learning about my breast cancer and then the confirmation of it after the lumpectomy on Dec 19, 2008. I've never experienced anything like the anxiety that hit me. Was I afraid of dying I’m sure, but more than that I was afraid of the impact on the lives around me. I didn’t want to let anyone down and complicate their life more, I didn’t want the financial tsunami that was sure to hit and I just didn’t want the incredible inconvenience. But as time passed and I got more information, the anxiety passed as my brother Terry assured me it would. As I learned more it gave me a feeling of doing something and the reactions from others were really wonderful and the outpouring of love was so humbling as well as the earnest offers to help in any way.

I like to get copies of my lab tests and when I got the copy of the Pathologist's report, I was uncomfortable about the vague nature of his wording which prompted me to go to UCLA for a second opinion. They concurred that the pathology report was NOT written like a pathology report should be. The tumor was not oriented as pathology reports should be, and there was a question about whether the margins were clear. The cancer was found in my right breast...initially a small spot, it's the margins we don't know about. It was diagnosed as HER 2 neu 3+ with Progesterone and Estrogen positive which means the new drug Herceptin can be used. It has been shown to be quite successful. It is just very very expensive. It's all quite overwhelming. Mornings are best for me to deal with business and try to discern my way through an avalanche of information. Hopefully things will get more focused as time goes on.

I'm due to go in for a 'port-a-cath' on Monday. I'm nervous about this and try and not think about what they say is just routine and generally a short procedure. I'm also nervous about the upcoming Chemo.