January 2008

I got the results a few days ago (Thursday). It wasn’t good news so I wasn’t in a hurry to post it. I am sure it’s what the doctors expected. The cancer has spread beyond my lungs. That makes it stage IV. It’s still shocking that I got this ill and had no idea. In fact, I’d always felt remarkably healthy. The lack of early screening for this is unbelievable. Like with most cancers, that will probably be the best way to cure it – early detection. My Saturday was far better than Friday. My nieces Lauren and Jackie visited from out of town. And we went out to dinner to celebrate Ken’s birthday – along with our friend, Steve.  The girls left this afternoon. We are relaxing and reading. And enjoying the blustery weather from our cozy home. I am doing very well today. 


This morning was a little rough. I woke up with nausea and a headache. But, thanks to Ken’s attentive care and love and support… and a little time, I recovered. I was feeling well enough after several hours to shower and get out to do some errands. I had to fight the heavy tiredness. But each effort made the next easier and the rest of the day went fine. I kept my salon appointment with Joe. It was good to see him and Buni. I relaxed so much I fell asleep in the chair. Spending time with them really cheered me up! For those that don’t know, tomorrow (Saturday) is Ken’s birthday.  I appreciate all the comments and support. Knowing there are so many rooting for me is encouraging and comforting. PS – If you want your comment to remain private (un-posted) just let me know. Each time a comment is added, I get an email telling me it’s there and includes the text. And, it gives me the option to go to my blog and post it for all to see.  

The day after the 1st chemo went well. The one sharp pain I have in my side took a rest for most of the day. That was very encouraging. I went into work for the day which had it’s own ups and downs. My sister, Betty, has been helping me with the business for over a year. She is putting in more time and taking a big load off of me. Ken’s been pitching in with my business, too. Helping me to speed up much needed projects and plans. He gives me the support to do those hard things that have fallen behind schedule. Today, my sister, Darlene, stopped by bringing lunch and a yoga mat of my own (it had been on my shopping list). I plan to put it to use early next week.My sister Karen also stopped by later with dessert… a hand-selected box of See’s candy. Something to help put some weight on for the days ahead. I am making the effort but can use all the help I can get. Ken is good to put snacks in front of me every hour or two and that helps too.

I woke up with only the slightest headache this morning. No other aches or pains! It like concrete confirmation the chemo is doing its job and that is incredibly encouraging. I am at the office today. I’ve split up a lot of my days lately between working at home and the office – when I am not making medical appointments. So just a short note for now so I can get back to my backlog at work.

I know we all have our perceptions about what chemo entails. Some date back to the early years of chemo and to dramatizations in movies and TV programs. For me, it involved laying back in an easy chair while hooked up to an IV. I can read, talk, watch a video (if I bring a player along), listen to my ipod, or chat. I could do more, like work on my computer, if I was comfortable bending my hand with a needle it my wrist – I am not. At least not yet. I have had a lot of needles in my veins due to all the tests, biopsies, and blood work these past few weeks and that’s not always the worst part. Today, the IV started with anti-nausea medication, followed by one therapy, Paraplatin, than the other, Gemcitabin. This was about 2 1/2 hours altogether. Next week I start with a blood test, come back in an hour, then only one of the chemo medications for about an hour. Yesterday, was much harder on me. It didn’t help there was a big mixup in the lab at Scripps, my paperwork was lost, and I waited nearly 40 minutes to get blood work that came in too late for my procedure. Then the type of procedure was changed dramatically – which caused confusion and more anxiety. And it’s never good hearing once again that the tumor is big. The results of that biopsy is estimated to take 3 – 5 week days. For me, that usually means 5 – 6. It was a long day that started before 7 AM. By the time I got home at 7PM or so, I was aching all over,  fatigued from all the stress, an completely out of steam. Ken was there every step of the way helping me as he has through this and everything. He is and always has been an exceptionally supportive friend and partner. Once home he got me settled in, calmed down, and fed in short-order.  I was finally relaxed and nodded off in relief in no time. So I had little time or energy to add to my blog.Until a week or more ago, I had very limited pain. But, this had increased, mostly a minor level of pain due to the swollen lymph nodes throughout my chest and up to my neck. The pain is tolerable – but the awareness of the spreading cancer it not. That’s been the source of my added anxiety.The hardship of the chemo is the after effect. In the course of killing the cancer cells, it reduces red and white counts. This means fatigue and susceptibility to infection.  This is several days away. At least I am otherwise healthy and my starting counts are quite good. 
Today my sprits are dramatically improved. The pain has lessened and encourages me. The discomfort ahead is a small price for all I have to gain I have to hope for. 

The radiologist recommended a change of action, prioritizing the biopsy of the enlarged lymph gland near my stomach over the spot on my vertebrae. It was an issue of risk and pain over what can be learned. The procedure went well. The drugs allowed for a nice break from my anxieties. But, it has been a long day. My focus is on tomorrow and my chemo.

I moved up my first chemo by a week to January 23. I was getting anxious about waiting and want to get the battle underway. It really lifted my spirits when I was able to get the earlier date. Tomorrow is the bone biopsy. It will be a bigger deal than I’d originally anticipated. But, it will be good to know, to have a better picture of what I’m up against.

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