Saturday, May 21, 2011

BLESSED!

So, I haven't written in a while. Not surprising though. I don't know about the rest of you, but I tend to write or over-think when there are times of stress or reflection. I guess, its been a good week! Nothing pressing to write about. Except that I started loosing my hair. I'll post pics when I'm good & bald. It just looks patchy & gross now. ;)
I had my 2nd chemo treatment on Wednesday the 18th. Doc Johnson said my blood-work was "awesome" and that I'm taking to the treatment very well! I even asked him if I was getting enough...his response, "You want more?"  LOL, not exactly, I just want to make sure we're doing our damnedest to kick this cancer's ass! I don't plan on going though this again. He assured me that I'm not being under-medicated at all, in fact he's hitting with everything he has. Good.
Couldn't help but ask though, because I've been blessed with a lot of good days for a woman on chemo! I'm sure you've all heard the same stories, chemo patients constantly sick, nauseous, in pain. I was prepared to be one of those women, prepared to watch the summer go on by. I know that each treatment affects each patient differently, but I am truly amazed by how good I feel. Now that I'm through the 2nd dose, I have a pattern and know what to expect for the last 2 doses of these drugs. It could all change in July when I start a different "cocktail."
Its a good thing I'm feeling good, there are things to be done! There are kids to raise! There's work to do! There's golf to play! There are concerts to go to! (Seriously, George Clinton & Steve Martin both in Salina this summer! P-funk meets King Tut! Not the same day though, that would put the universe into chaos! Yes, yes, yes...I am a super eccentric music geek.)
And another good thing this week - today actually, my guy opened his new restaurant! Yeah!! If you're in or around Lindsborg, go check out The Brick House Grill!! I'm excited to have my appetite back in time for an awesome meal this week!
So, for this week, the word is BLESSED! I am blessed with a good attitude. I am blessed with awesome family & friends! I am blessed with an excellent medical team. I am blessed to be here, everyday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where I'm supposed to be...

Not really sure how to start this thought, but I guess my feeling of late is "I'm where I'm supposed to be." How, you ask, can someone who has cancer be comfortable with where they are in life. It's horribly depressing to think about really. You start to feel the "why me's" coming on. Well...why not me?

For those that know me, I've had rough 2-3 years. I went through a divorce, changed jobs twice, moved 3 times and at one point was working 5 different part-time jobs to make ends meet, all while raising 2 boys. Last summer about this time my Mom starting to get very sick, eventually ending up in the hospital for weeks, then rehab, then staying at home while I worked full-time and left our shop in the care of high schoolers (who did a fabulous job!). It just seemed like none of us could catch a break. So we turn the calendar pages to February, everyone is feeling pretty good, although Mom is still on IV therapy for her infection. Cool.

Then...CANCER!  

WTF???? Where did that come from?

So, now that I've had some time to reflect on the whole thing, I firmly believe that things happen for a reason and that I'm where I'm supposed to be:

If I hadn't of gotten divorced, I probably would not of found the cancer until it was much more developed and possibly metastasized. What possible logic could I have for this? I found the tumor after I had my tubes tied, which I wouldn't have had done if I were still married.
If I hadn't of changed jobs twice I wouldn't have the outstanding boss & insurance that I have now. Mike Peterson, my boss, is wonderful, truly wonderful. He's allowed me to take care of my illness without having to stress about losing my job. That is trust & compassion I absolutely will not take for granted. If I'm feeling good, or even so-so...I'll be there for him.
If I hadn't of moved 3 times, I wouldn't be living in the great complex that I live in. Not only is it a nice place with wonderful neighbors & friends, it is income based. When the amount of hours I was able to work went down, the staff was willing to work with me.
Now, the last thing is much more difficult to accept, and I still struggle to understand the meaning or why's of my Mom's illnesses. Between lupus, kidney transplants, lung infections & blood clots, our family has had a long road, since about 1986. The only thing I can grasp is that by having witnessed the grace, humility & strength with which my mother has handled everything, I have a shining example of how to handle myself in my current predicament. And not only for myself, tons of people have been witness to my Mom's strength and hopefully it has inspired them as it has me.

So, are you where you're supposed to be?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dance Your Cares Away...

So...Yesterday was a GOOD day!!! All of my scans were clear, which means I am a Stage 2 cancer patient. Even though there was cancer in the nodes (which were all removed), my bone scan, CAT scan & all blood work came back clear. PRAISE GOD!!!  So, in celebration, I present a group of folks who can say it better than anyone:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7TTk_0XYn4

I honestly don't know who celebrates better than Fraggles, do you? ;)

Yesterday I had my first round of chemo. As far as the actual treatment goes - boooring! It's just me, with a little needle hooked up to Portia (what we named my infusaport). Over 2-1/2 hours I received an anti-nausea med, a steroid, and 2 separate chemo meds. After that, Mom & I headed to lunch, then to get all of my at-home meds - more anti-nausea, steroids & a sleeping pill.
I finally made it back to work at 2, and that lasted until 3:15 - I was wiped out and had a headache by this time. I headed to bed and basically stayed there, unless you count the 2 trips to the bathroom when the nausea meds didn't work. Blah.

Felling pretty good today, woke up about 9 when Bob came over to check on me & let Max, my super-duper dog, outside. Just been taking it slow. Dad took me back to the cancer center to get my Neulasta shot this afternoon. This shot boosts white blood cell production, to counter act the chemo, keeping me healthy as possible. Now I'm just relaxing a bit. It all wears you out pretty good, but from what the doctor & nurses say, the regimen that I'm on shouldn't be that bad. Since I'm doing chemo every 2 weeks for now, I might get lucky enough to have 1 good week in between. Hope so!

God Bless & love you all!!!!
Marjie

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm Fine. Really!

WARNING: Rant Ahead!

Is it wrong that I get annoyed by folks who ask me how I'm feeling while they have a horribly pained look on their face? It's not that I don't appreciate their thoughts, I do. Really, I do. But at the same time I want to say, "I'm not dying, I'm FIGHTING!!!"

Okay, that's out of the way. Sorry.

I know this makes me sound incredibly ungrateful. Cancer sucks and there's no debating that. It's just that I'm a 'glass is half-full' kinda gal. That's the one thing I do know about myself - I keep filling up everyone else's cups. Like that lovable waitress Flo from Mel's diner, I'm gonna fill up that cup and then give ya a sarcastic nugget straight outta my big mouth.

This fight is gonna be hard enough as it is, so if you see me wearing my mopey-pants, lift me up. Give me a little out of your cup and I'll do the same for you when you're running low.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Just rollin' along...

What a week! Started out pretty low, having my 4th surgery since 2/25, but the week ended pretty well with some "unofficial" good news. So...let's get started!

Monday was a full day, beginning with a 2-D Echo-cardiogram at Lindsborg Hospital. This was not what I expected, having confused it with a EKG. Again I was suited up in a gown, and told to lay on my left side so the tech could essentially do a sonogram of my heart. Having long since passed the point of embarrassment, it didn't even bother me that the tech was trying to get around "my girls" in order to get the picture. They also recorded the sounds each of the 4 valves were making. I asked the tech if everything was okay, because to me it sounded like a drain backing up. She just laughed and said I sounded perfectly normal. So, Echo complete, I moved on to the Salina Surgical Hospital to have my chemotherapy infusaport placed.

Normal check-in procedures - I'm getting pretty adept at all this by now. For the actual surgery they decided to keep me "awake." Translation: "Yes, you will be awake, but we will pump you so full of drugs that we could amputate all 4 limbs and you wouldn't give a crap." That being said, this was supposed to be the easiest of the 4 surgeries I've had. I guess it was, it only took about 10-15 minutes for them to place the port. And as Dr. Macy was leaving the operating room he said he would see me later, to which I replied (in my drug induced stupor, "No offense, but I hope not."

So I'm wheeled out to recovery, which is a bank of recliners separated by curtains. I doze there for an hour or so...probably more. I'm able to eat some toast, drink so water and not feel nauseated, so I'm thinking this is great! Dad gets me all loaded up in the truck and off we go. We pick up the kids from school, go to the pharmacy then head for Dad's. When we get there I have a few crackers, take a pain pill and go to sleep for a while.

I should mention that I am SUPER sensitive to the narcotic pain meds & anesthesia, so I specially request pain killers that are non-narcotic. Fine. Great. SUPER! Right? WRONG!! Holy cow, from about 6 p.m. Monday night until 3 or 4 p.m. on Tuesday, I was one messed up chick. Nausea, headache, and eventually throwing up. I was supposed to go back to the hospital at 12:30 on Tuesday for a bone scan. Well I almost went to the hospital, but not for a bone scan. When the kids were at school on Tuesday I think my folks were ready to load me up and take me back in. Luckily after a few phone calls to the doctor, a dose of nausea meds & some heavy peach syrup, I was finally able to keep stuff down.

Handy tip: Syrup from cans of cling peaches helps nausea! Take a tablespoon every 20 minutes for an hour, then try some water or soda crackers an hour after your last sip of syrup. It works!!!

I finally got home around 6ish on Tuesday night. I was able to work most of the day Wednesday, all day Thursday, then back to testing on Friday when I finally had my bone scan. As far as tests go, the bone scan was the easiest. With the exception of getting another shot of radioactive isotopes, a bone scan is an excuse to nap for 20 minutes while a computer guided x-ray glides over my body. The tech for this test was one talkative lady! We discussed the Royal Wedding and eventually she asked my story. I gave her the Cliff's Notes version (should have given her a link to this blog!) and she agreed that I'm one lucky lady.

When the test was over, she looked it over and said I was "clean as a whistle!" while reminding me that she's not a doctor, but she did have 40 years experience in radiology & nuclear medicine. That was the first bit of good news I've gotten in weeks, so let's hope the doctors concur!

Wednesday I'll meet with Dr. Johnson, my oncologist, to discuss test results. Pray for clean results, please. That's all I can ask of each of you. As long as we don't find it anywhere else, I am in Stage 2, which the doctor said is completely treatable.

Also on Wednesday I begin my first chemotherapy treatment. I'm looking forward to getting more details on side effects for these particular drugs. We've all known someone who lost their hair, had nausea, but each drugs affects everyone differently. I shopped around for wigs on Friday and found a few styles I liked. I will probably be cutting my hair this week so it's not such a shock to me when the long stuff falls out. I've been growing my hair out for 2-1/2 years!!! Going bald is going to irritate me!!!! :)

To end the week, the boys, Bob & I took off for the Zoo with our friends the Orchards. It was a great, but cold, day! Shielah was right, I needed to get out and do something fun. Thanks girl, I appreciate it!!!

Thank you all for the prayers, well wishes, cards, flowers, etc. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful friends & family! I love you all.