February 2008


My foot is doing much better. It’s a ligament attached to my heel, a common injury called plantar fasciitis. A shoe insert and regular stretching is supposed to help. I manage to stay out of the boot for a day or two. It’s my left – so I can still drive. I am doing well with it and expect I’ll recover quickly.This is my week off from chemo. I am feeling great most of the time. For the last two days I’ve been aware of lymph glands in my neck. – a bit swollen and achy. It’s not the pain that bothers me – it’s the reminder of the cancer.

 

I went to a support group today – a first for me. This one is for lung cancer patients and meets once a month. It is encouraging to see survivors. Everyone is excited to hear that someone’s made it for well over a year. There were two there today that were diagnosed over two years ago and a doing really well. A few discussed a drug called Tarceva, a pill that keeps recurrence at bay. They said once you go on it, you stay on it. Resistance can happen with this – like any of the treatments. I did like how one woman referred to her tumor, she called it “the monster.”  Another woman said if she sees another pink ribbon she’s going to puke – and I understood how she felt.  White is the color for lung cancer. I don’t know who decides these things.  

 

Friday morning is my CT scan. Ken and I will see my new doctor on Monday afternoon. Then, we’ll finally have an idea how the chemo has been working. It’s going to be a long weekend waiting for the results. But, this is a lot faster than what I’m used to.

The Lung Cancer Alliance is working on improving funding for prevention and treatment of lung cancer. Please go to the following link to participate in a petition they are supporting. You can go to my “Links” section or you can copy and paste it from here into your browser. http://www.lungcanceralliance.org/involved/sign_the_petition.php

This week, Chemo was supposed to be the shorter treatment. But some troubles with my veins delayed things considerably. My left wrist and arm are still aching from last week. Today’s IV was diluted with saline to prevent the same thing on my right. This is my last at Scripps since I am transferring to UCSD next week. Next week is my “week off.”   Friday, the 29th I will have a CT scan to check my progress for the first time since I started chemo. I will meet with my new doctor on March 3 with my next chemo set for the 5th.

Wednesday was the first week of round two of my chemo. It went even better. No nausea, no headache, just sleepy. I thought I’d missed all of the side effects when Friday went so well.  Well… until Saturday. I woke up with a bad case of nausea that lasted the entire day. It was miserable. At least it’s over now.   I’ve been sleeping more than my normal 6 1/2 to 7 hours a night – which is good. And, I’ve been trying to get as much work done as I can while I’ve been feeling better. My illness has already cost me at work.  In the midst of the most traumatic days when I first learned about my diagnosis, I bungled an appointment that has likely lost me a client. It’s a new person involved – so no history to fall back on. But, I know I can only do so much as hard as that can be at times.  Next Wednesday is my 2nd chemo of this round. Then on the 29th I have my follow-up CT scan. That will tell how effective the treatments have been. Then back on chemo the following week.   Overall, I feel fine most of the time. People are surprised how normal I look. Keeping busy means I don’t dwell on it nearly so much. I rarely cry these days – unlike the first weeks of the news. All along there are times when it just doesn’t seem possible that this has all happened. Then there are hard times, like when I wake up early in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. That’s when it’s hard to avoid the realities. On the positive side, I am focusing on nutrition. Restoring my red & white blood counts as best as I can is important to handling future treatment. I am reading and gathering information. And will make changes as my stomach allows.

I’ve been feeling pretty good all week. My energy level is normal and I’ve been using that to get as much work done as I can. I’ve gotten so far behind these past several weeks.  I am very relieved to report I’ve had no noticeable return of pre-chemo symptoms. In a completely unrelated issue – I’ve managed to injure my left foot and cannot put any weight on it. I’ll be following up with a podiatrist next week. In the meantime, I am learning to use crutches, hoping sometime off of my foot, along with “super Advil” will resolve it. Ken had a pair of crutches in the back of the closet from his days in a ortho boot. So he’s been giving me lessons. It sure is a slow way to get around! 

We had a quiet weekend running errands on Saturday and even got to work in the garden and plant some vegetables . On Sunday we enjoyed the Superbowl. I brought some work home to catch up on, but didn’t look at it. I have been working regular hours this week. It’s been nice to get my mind on other things and to be normal.    

 

Tuesday evening Ken and I went a presentation on lung cancer at Scripps. Two survivors attended.  It was great to hear of the support available and of the Lung Cancer Alliance. Though, it was shocking to hear how little research is being done in this area. Early detection is practically non-existent. Cure rates pale in comparison to other cancers – so little research funded.  

 

Universally, the first question people with lung cancer are asked is “Did you smoke?” I didn’t. And I quickly learned to say so immediately after I tell anyone I have this disease. No other cancer prompts this type of question – inferring blame. Interesting, hunh?I am still feeling good and have not lost any weight. I have no lasting side effects from the chemo other than needing a bit more sleep than usual. So far, so good!

I got a full day of work in on Thursday. Other than a mild headache in the morning, I felt okay. Friday was not as bad as the previous one – a bit of a head and stomach ache and very tired. But, I got out for lunch with Ken and finished the afternoon at work.Ken’s staff had bracelets made – like the ones made famous by Lance Armstrong in his battle with cancer. Mine are purple with “Sheila” stamped on them. I cried when I saw the first one on Ken’s wrist.I am looking forward to a quiet weekend at home and, on Sunday, the Superbowl. 

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