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Why?

To be honest with you, I really wish I’d never have to revisit this blog. Actually, I wish I’d never had the feeling of needing it! Now before you start freaking out, this isn’t about my personal cancer journey. I just have to let some things out.

I got a call today that it’s time for my semi-annual scans. Because I’ve been PET negative for a year, Dr. Sharman is fine with me having just a CT (CAT) Scan this time. Ok, no big deal. Also my 3 month checkup happens to be this month on the 16th. Fine. This doesn’t bother me. I’ve had a few weird things crop up in the past year or so – like a walnut/tree nut allergy. What’s up with that? I love nuts! Grr.

Anyway, I got home tonight and Tom told me that he saw on Facebook that a friend of mine had something big happening. I said, “What?” He said, “She just found out she has cancer.” WHAT????? Just typing this pulls the feelings to the surface again.

I am so angry.

And scared.

And just want to scream!

I’ve been sitting here on my bed, rocking like a crazy person with tears streaming down my face. Sobbing like a baby with my breath coming in choked gasps. Why?

Please pray for my friend Danielle. She has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She has been through way more than ANY new mommy should ever have to go through.

Better Than I Deserve

Some days it seems like words just flow while other days I feel stuck in my writing, but I felt it important to update all of you who care about me and my family.

It’s almost as if I’ve been waiting for the hammer to fall. Waiting for that moment when I start feeling horribly rotten again. The weird thing is, it hasn’t happened like it has in the past. Now, I’m not saying I haven’t had any side effects, because I have, but they have mercifully been so much easier. I definitely got cranky yesterday though 🙂 and naps have been a daily occurrence lately.

I have to believe that it is because of all the prayers going up on our behalf, but also, maybe partly because I know this is it! There are no more chemo sessions in my future. Yes, I go for hydration treatment tomorrow, but that’s going to be my last IV for a while. I am really excited about that!

Thank you all for yummy meals and coveted prayers. Onward to health!

September: Sunshine & Shadows

It sounds trite & cliche, but I’m going to use it anyway.  Our lives are filled with sunshine & shadows.  It hasn’t been more evident to me than in the past month.

If I sat and blogged every time I got the idea to, you guys would get sick & tired of all the posts and ramblings I wrote. 🙂  So I guess you can consider it somewhat of a blessing that I don’t get to blogging all the time that I think about it.

September has been a really difficult month for me personally.  Starting with the fever and ending up in the hospital for a week, then having to have chemo when I still was feeling pretty rotten – that’s been a lot of my shadows.  I also lost a great little friend this month – it’s hard to see a child pass away from cancer.  All these different things really started me into a deep depression.  I share this not for pity, but maybe to explain why I have been absent from a lot of things lately.  If you have ever had a bout with depression, you can understand how it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel – or if there is, it’s because it’s an oncoming train!  I’ve personally never had it like I’ve had it recently.  I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, and one of the biggest things I discussed with the Lord was my lack of joy.  I have never been a person that couldn’t dig down & find just a little bit of joy or happiness inside until recently.  (I’m really giving you a glimpse into my heart here – don’t misuse it! 🙂 )  Anyway, it’s been rough.  Even as recently as last Tuesday (which happened to be Brandon’s funeral) I would say it has been one of the hardest days yet of my treatment cycles.  I think the tipping point was the fact that I hadn’t been able to get the sleep I needed for multiple nights in a row.  FINALLY on Tuesday night, after calling my doctor’s office and getting some more direction on what to take, I was able to get some sleep.

Because my body was finally able to get the rest that it needed, I have gotten to see some real SUNSHINE at the end of this month.  Friday morning, I woke up and thought, “Oh my gosh, I feel FANTASTIC!”  And I did!  A friend came over & we did some digital scrapbooking lessons, and I went and got my nails done.  I was a little shaky and knew I needed to take it easy, but just couldn’t resist going to the office and seeing all my Keller Williams family while I felt good.  But this kind of good, I hadn’t felt in longer than I could remember.  I was driving down the road and out loud, I said, “I’m smiling!”  I hadn’t smiled in what seemed like forever.  Well, that’s not quite true.  Many of you saw me smile, but I’ll be honest, it was a “smile-because-you’re-supposed-to-so-they-don’t-feel-so-sorry-for-you” kind of smile.  You know the kind – fake it till you make it? 🙂  Yeah, that was me – until this weekend.

On Saturday we got to spend a fun day at Sue & Pat Long’s house for the Keller Williams company picnic, and had amazingly beautiful weather!  There was a fishing derby and delicious food and best of all people to visit with.  Then later that evening, we went to Brownsville for our nephew’s birthday – Steen is 5 now! 🙂  The kids got to play with their cousins and we got to visit with family.  I could feel the fatigue setting in, so we headed home a little earlier than we originally planned, but we had a great time.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time getting to sleep again last night – it was after 2:00am before I was able to doze off.

Today I let myself sleep and then we went to my mom & dad’s house for dinner in honor of my sister’s 37th birthday.  We relaxed in the sunshine & breezes and also got some fun photo sessions in for kicks.  Here’s a picture of my sister & I today:

 

I ended the day actually getting to PLAY on our “Grandpa’s Team” city league softball team.  It was the last regular game of the season, and I had the energy to do it so I DID!  It felt sooo good to be at least acting somewhat normal.

Life is good.  God is good.  These are things I have to remember.  Another thing to remember is that on those “down” days (and they do/will happen) it’s not going to stay that way.  You would have had a hard time convincing me of this a week ago, but I am so grateful to God for these precious 3 days that I have felt so good.  Oh by the way, you all have permission to remind me of these facts, but I will never turn down a shoulder to cry on either. 🙂

Thank you for your friendships – they mean so much to me.  I couldn’t get through this without God, my family (both blood & KW), and my friends.  I am truly, TRULY blessed.

Now tomorrow is my second to last session of chemo, so I would definitely covet some prayers that it would go well.  I know it’s gonna be rough again, and I’m not looking forward to it, but with God’s help, I will get through this victoriously!

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Fever: Day 7; Hospital: Day 3

Well, I don’t have a lot of energy, so this entry will probably be relatively short.

Last night my fever spiked to 104, and when I got up to use the bathroom, I started coughing and could hardly stop. At this point, my oxygen saturation was 85%. They put me on oxygen right away, and then gave me some Tylenol for the fever. By this time, it was so hard to breathe that I was really scared. The thought that I could actually die from what brought me to the hospital was beginning to almost terrify me. I managed to fall asleep, but even my sleep wasn’t without “stress”. I had a dream that I pulled out my IV, but was conscious enough to realize I was dreaming, and try to wake myself.

This morning I woke up and when I went to use the bathroom, the coughing started again. I coughed so hard that it triggered my gag reflex, and you know where this went… When Dr. Sharman came in today, he told me that since things haven’t improved with antibiotics, he feels that these problems I’m having are because of the Bleomycin, so now he’s going to start me on Prednisone. I have to admit, I am really not looking forward to it because of the weight gain & puffiness it can cause. However, right now I’m beginning to look like death warmed over, so perhaps the Prednisone will be an improvement.

Thanks for all the prayers, I could really use as many as possible! One of my biggest fears was that Dr. Sharman would send me home before I was really “well”. He reassured me today that he will not send me home too early, in fact, he’s not planning for me to go home before Monday. I welcome visitors, but a lot of talking wears me out – I’m sure Tom would love to have someone to talk to! 🙂

Ok, I think it’s time to eat my lunch. Talk to you all soon! Psalm 117:18 – gotta remember this…

Sidelined for Now

Yesterday my fever hit 102.4 after I had taken Tylenol an hour prior, so I called the cancer clinic to find out what they wanted me to do. They told me to head to Eugene and to prepare to be admitted. I packed a bag of essentials, and mom came over, picked us up, and we headed to the hospital.

We checked in at the clinic first and then I was admitted to Riverbend. The nurses and staff here are great. I did have a CT scan done soon after getting here, but we didn’t hear anything back about anything until today.

The problem is definitely in my lungs, but we’re not sure whether it’s pneumonia or a complication of the chemotherapy drug, Bleomycin, that they took me off of at my last session. Other than doing some invasive tests like scoping my lungs, my understanding is that the way they can determine which one it is, will be how it responds to treatment. I got a dose of an antibiotic yesterday and another today, but even this morning I had a fever that reached 103. They gave me some Tylenol which I can tell brought my fever down. It may be that we won’t find out why I got a fever, or for sure there was pneumonia even. Because of this, the chemotherapy session that I was supposed to have today will be postponed at least a week.

I will be here again tonight for sure, and time will tell whether I get to come home tomorrow. Until then, I know I am in the place I need to be. Thanks for all your prayers!

Fever – Day 4

Have you ever let a project go for a couple days, meant to do something about it and then before you know it, it’s snowballed into an even bigger project.  So you think you don’t have time to catch up, so you put it off another day.  One day becomes two, two becomes four and suddenly you couldn’t catch up if you tried?  Well that’s where I feel I am right now, so instead of trying to catch up, I’ll just start where I am now.

This is the fourth day of a low grade fever & cough.  It started on Friday night, and by 6:30 am on Saturday morning, my fever had hit 101.4.  So Tom & I went in to the Emergency Room in Albany to see if they could find anything haywire with me.  I had a few tests and a chest x-ray while I was there.  They told me that there was no pneumonia and to call back the next day to find out about the blood cultures.  Sunday I called back & they told me that everything was fine – negative.  The weirdest thing was that my white blood cell count came in at 3.11 – WAY higher than it’s been at ANY time prior to chemotherapy.  It just makes me think that something wasn’t done correctly, and Dr. Sharman thinks it’s a little odd too.

I stayed down and tried to “be good” all day Saturday & Sunday, and most of Monday.  It is not easy.  It makes me feel like I’m being lazy, but I know that it’s the best thing for my body to get the rest it needs.  Today, my temperature has still been dancing in the high 100s, so I called the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute to speak to a nurse and see what they wanted me to do.  They have decided that I will have a CT scan of my chest done tomorrow.

So there you have it.  I’m caught up for now – or at least as caught up as I’m gonna get.  🙂

A Different Kind of Radiant

Thursday’s appointment with the radiologist went really well. We met with Dr. Wendland at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and she gave us some great information on the whole radiology protocol. As she went through what some of the benefits of radiation could be, I was thinking that it was something that I should probably do.

Then she went through some of the reasons I might not want to go forward with it. As I understood, with radiation, the drawbacks are relatively site related. She said that because of the degree of advancement of my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, there was no way that they could focus the radiation on each area that had shown having cancerous activity, so they would just have to focus on the mass. Because my mass is in my chest, there are a lot more major organs that could be affected by the radiation. The major concerns that they have are for the lungs, heart & breasts. There are side effects that I could have that would show up right away, but it’s the long-term side effects that concern them the most.

With the lungs, I could have reduced function in the future, and with the breasts, it would raise my chances of getting breast cancer. But she said that it was what could happen with my heart that concerned her the most. Since the location of my mass was so very close to my heart, there would be no way to treat the mass with radiation without also treating the heart. She said that if I were 79 years old, complications in 30 years wouldn’t be an issue, but in her opinion, the risks to me outweigh the benefits of radiation. She had called Dr. Sharman and talked to him about my case to see what his thoughts were about my treatment.

When a patient has a “bulky” mass (10 cm and larger), they feel (and evidence shows) that it’s important to do the radiation. My mass originally was measured at 10.0 cm, but later, in the PET scan that was done, both she & Dr. Sharman measured my mass to be right around 8.2 cm. Both doctors felt that because it was more of a “gray” area, they wanted my input on whether I wanted to do the radiation or not. Talk about pressure! 🙂

Finally, after discussing everything at length, and finding out that both she & Dr. Sharman feel that there are not enough benefits to outweigh the risks of radiation, I have decided to go with their professional opinions and not have radiation treatments. This means that once I have my last chemotherapy treatment on October 4th, I can begin the long road of recovery. I’m not even sure what that will entail, so I guess we’ll all find out together. What I do know is that I am claiming my Psalm 118:17 verse more & more every day.