Monday, August 31, 2009

101st Blog Entry

Wow! I made it past 100. So cool!

I have an appt with a genetics counselor at Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh tomorrow. They were so good to give me a rush appt. Not looking forward to dealing with yet another doctor but this will give insight into our family genetics and see if we carry the colon cancer gene (hereditary) or whether my colon cancer was just a sporadic thing.

Such a beautiful day here today. Sun is shining and the air is a bit chilly. Fall may be just around the corner but hoping for a few more warm days here to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday

Yesterday didn't start off on a positive note. I had my alarm clock set for 6:30 a.m. and when it went off Phil shut it off. He forgot I had a meeting I was attending. So, I woke up at 7:47 and got my bath, dried my hair, put on makeup, got dressed, bought biscuits at McD's and got to the Sheraton in Greensburg by 9:05! Amazing!

Had an absolutely wonderful time seeing the ladies at our district meeting. We had a pre-meeting (if that is a correct word) and then had workshops. Lunch at noon followed by a post-meeting. Very good. Saw regents from other chapters and had six members from my own chapter attend the meeting. I am so proud that five of them were chapter officers! My chapter is amazing!

Yesterday

Yesterday was such a physically exhausting day for me.

I picked up Chucky to take him back to school shopping and Jassmine started crying so I had to take her with us. Joe and Chrystal both talked to Chucky about behaving well for grandma (me) and he promised ever so nicely to be good. Well, that lasted only as soon as he got inside the car. By the time we made it 10 minutes up the road to Kmart I was feeling undone.

After an hour of chasing and fighting with him about clothes, shoes, socks, etc. I wanted to just get the heck out of the store, drop the kids off and go home and lay down for a nap. Thankfully, Chrystal showed up while I was in the check out line. I was never so thankful to see someone!

From there we went to Wendy's for something to eat and then up to the shoe store to find Chucky a pair of shoes that fit. After that I dropped the kids off with Jessica and headed over to get the Jeep inspected (annual required inspection and emissions testing). I made it home by 4:00 and went right to bed and woke up at 6:45 when Phil walked in the door. I didn't plan anything for dinner but threw together tuna noodle casserole. It was hot and edible and that's all I cared about. I went back to bed at 8:45.

Prior to bed I checked the blogs I follow. One in particular I've paid close attention to over the past six months and that was Kim Miller's; a stage 4 colon cancer patient. Sadly, she passed away yesterday at the age of 29. Such a vibrant young woman, full of life and love, with a husband and two young children at home and also a teenage stepdaughter.

I had never met her but corresponded with her via her blog. I felt I knew her and since we shared this disease called colon cancer also felt I had a kindred sister. I feel just devastated by the loss of this young woman. I prayed every day for her and wanted God to heal her. I know I shouldn't question WHY this had to happen but I think is so unfair.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great Day

Today was a really good day. I got a lot accomplished at work and the desk is "almost" clean. Well, as clean as I can get Randy to keep it.

Sandy was working day shift this week and I was still there when she got in at 3:15. It was so nice to see her. I hadn't seen her much since she started working night shifts.

Haven't felt exhausted today like I did yesterday. It was a really nice day.

I forgot to mention

that we took my shotgun out to the beagle club on Tuesday evening and I shot it for the first time! Wowee! That was fun and I actually hit my target both times I shot at it! Phil and Tony (another club member) were there to cheer me on. Wow, good shootin girl. There I stood in bare feet with my white skirt and my lace sweater on. Not exactly the sight you'd expect of a future hunter. giggle Then Tony asks me if I'm going pheasant hunting with Phil. Uh, I may be able to shoot a stationary water bottle from 25 yards but a flying object? I seriously doubt I would be able to hit that. :)

I worked yesterday. I almost turned around and left as soon as I saw the desk in the office. It took me over an hour to sort through the papers. I was able to get some things accomplished but I definitely have to go back today to get things cleaned up and filed.

I was so tired out yesterday. I had a hard time driving home and still had to stop and buy dog food at Tractor Supply. As soon as I came in the door I put Bella out and went up to bed. Phil came in the door at 7 p.m. and woke me up. I cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen up and went back to bed.

Hoping for a much better and less tiring day today. Thank God there was no diarrhea and nausea yesterday. That was absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday

Yesterday was such a bad day for me and Phil got so worried that he took today off and made me go to the cancer center for fluids and bloodwork. He asked them to test my potassium and magnesium levels. I will probably have to go back on potassium pills. Blech! Horse pills. They make me gag. Even if I cut them in half they get stuck in my throat so I have to put them in applesauce or apple butter.

I lost six pounds since I was weighed last Thursday at the center. Too much vomiting and diarrhea will do that. It's how I lost 30 pounds the first time around.

My blood pressure was also up from last Thursday. It was 119/73 last time and today was 143/93 so I will need to put in my scrip for Lisinopril(sp?). When I'm off chemo I have no problems but as soon as I get on it the chemo drugs just make my body go haywire. :)

God sent me a gift at the cancer center today. Her name was Bobbie. She happens to be a customer of Randy's so we talked almost the whole time we were there. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast sarcoma (hoping I got that right) 22 years ago. Her husband left as soon as she was diagnosed. Weasel!

She has been on and off chemo for the past six years. She said you've got to decide what you want. Do you want to be walking on the grass or under it? Wow. Smacked some sense into me. She said honey, you're a fighter, you can do this. You have to just keep doing it. She really made me think. My God, dear Lord, if she has been doing this battle with cancer for 22 years then I can do it, too.

After we left the center I had a hunger for Cracker Barrel but it was a long drive from the center and Phil still had to feed animals. It was after 3 p.m. when we left. I suggested Red Lobster and we had a fantastic waiter named Samuel. My lunch was wonderful. Phil had the Admiral's Platter and brought half of it home for his dinner. I skipped dinner. Forgot to take the Prilosec at breakfast and ended up with indigestion. That's another thing I don't have when not on chemo.

I used to laugh to myself when I was a kid and I saw the amount of meds my grandpa and his wife were on. I thought what the heck do they need all that crap for? Then it was my parents and then it was me. You live and learn. I hate being on drugs. Never smoked a cigarette in my life (the smell gives me migraines), never smoked weed or drank. Never saw why other people did or do.

If you could see the cancer patients who have had their tongues or throat boxes removed or any of the other things I've seen you would STOP smoking. One thing that truly pisses me off is to see the cancer patients in the parking lot hardly waiting to get to their cars before they light up another cancer stick! What the heck? Just say NO! Stop today! Cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco; give it up now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Feeling Well

Friday I felt pretty good. I dropped Phil's mom off at her house and then headed over to my appt with the chiropractor. Called Randy while still at Mom's to let him know the fan wasn't running on the a/c unit. He went out to take a look at it. Said two connections were dirty so he cleaned them off for her. I waited for him to show up to load the hay into my truck. I didn't want to try loading them on my own. Phil says I scratch the truck up.

Saturday I noticed my hair starting to fall out. Looks like 20-30 strands at a time but maybe more. I started having diarrhea in the morning and felt sick to my stomach. Felt better when Phil came home and we drove to Ligonier to look at the Antiques on the Diamond. The only store we walked into was Kathy Zimmerman's yarn store. I believe you can never have enough yarn. After I bought my newest stash we went to Latrobe to Denny's for a late brunch.

Sunday Phil went to Warriorsmark to train dogs with Mike Groman, Dave Shirey, Rich Nesbitt and Bob Jenkner. They must have had a great time because he wasn't back until about 3 p.m. :) But that was because I called and asked him to bring me home a crispy chicken salad from Dairy Queen in Donegal.

Diarrhea and nausea was still bad on Sunday but I felt wonderful by the evening and we sat and watched tv together. Well, I watched Gordon Ramsay and then the Food Network and Phil tolerated my tv choices. He is so good to me. Randy says I am spoiled.

I was up a couple times in the night with diarrhea. When I finally got out of bed around 8:30 this morning my diarrhea was severe. I ended up having to throw up and then passed out in the bathroom. Thankfully I was able to make it back to bed and slept for the next couple of hours.

My sister called at 11:30 and I decided to get up and take some Imodium tabs. I got a bath and Ralph called to check on me. My mom called him to let him know I was sick. I told him I would be okay, I'd had my bath and was going to lay down until Phil came home from work.

At 2:00 the phone rang but I didn't check to see who it was. At 2:30 the basement door opened and Mom Urban came upstairs to the bedroom to check on me. My mom called her, too. She fixed something for me to eat and stayed until 6:00. Phil should be home soon.

6:40 p.m. and I hear Phil pulling up in the driveway.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Disconnect Day

You have no idea how much I look forward to getting disconnected from the chemo bag. I loathe having to do chemo.

I got my schedule of upcoming chemo treatments. The next one is September 1 and the following one is September 15. That takes me through four treatment sessions.

Really looking forward to the Neely family reunion in Pipestem. So glad it will be during my week off chemo. My sister has rented us a cabin at the Bluestone. I'm anticipating an amazing weekend with the family.

Woke up with dry heaves this morning. Got my bath and went downstairs for breakfast. Was so tired afterwards that I went back up to bed. Mom woke me up around 11:30 that it was time for lunch. I'm supposed to eat small meals every couple of hours.

We drove to the cancer center and I was unhooked and out of there by 2:30. We went to Eat N Park and I had a bowl of Italian wedding soup and half a club sandwich. Yummy but I couldn't finish either. We left there and went to get a few things at the grocery store then get gas for the truck and headed home. I went straight to bed once we got home. Phil woke me up when he got in at 6:15 and Mom had fixed chicken noodle soup for dinner. Super yummy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomorrow is Chemo Day Round 2

I had a really great day today! Got a lot of laundry done today. Cleaned up the dishes from yesterday and put clean sheets on the bed where Mom Urban is going to be staying.

I forgot my chiropractor appt was at 11 a.m. today and they called to reschedule me. I went in at 2:45 p.m. My next appt is on Friday at 1:45 p.m. Let's hope I remember it.

Went home and fed animals, got a shower and headed out to meet Phil and Mom Urban at China Buffet in Mount Pleasant. Dinner was awesome. Our server was great. I don't know his name but he is so funny.

Round 2 chemo starts tomorrow. Really not looking forward to it but am hoping that I feel as good during the in-between week as I did this past week.

My appt is at 9 a.m. tomorrow. We meet with Dr. Viverette prior to the chemo appt.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mom and Dad

came up on Thursday and are going back tomorrow. We have had a great time. At least, I did.

I have cooked the entire time they have been here and have gained three pounds! Not good! I had an appointment on Friday with Dr. Weisel and, for once, he didn't say a thing about my weight! giggle

Ralph and Jess, along with Chucky and Jassmine, were over for dinner last night and today. Joe and Chrystal stopped over today. He works all the time and was getting ready to head out to work but wanted to stop over to see us. They were hoping to see Gram and Pop but my dad was out fishing with Ralph at Somerset Lake. I'm sure Joe would rather have been out fishing on the lake than heading to work!

Went to our DAR chapter's yard sale and gold party today. We ended up driving back home so I could scrounge through the safe and my jewelry box for unwanted and scrap gold jewelry. Went back and sold it and came home $110 richer! Makes up for the $130 I spent at the Salvation Army yesterday. Monica, you will be psyched to know I found a "mint" Oscar Schmidt autoharp complete with booklets, tuning wrench, picks, etc. and the strings all look brand new. No rust at all. Gorgeous.

I am so unbelievably tired but have had a great few days since they got here. Haven't felt sick once and haven't had to take a nap except for today. I think the heat really got to me today. That and I got up at 5:30 this morning to make lunch for Phil to take to the hunt test with him and also for dad and Ralph to take with them on the fishing trip.

Planning to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to go with Phil to another hunt test. Hoping I bring him luck. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today is Thursday

and I haven't slept a wink all night so I got out of bed and struggled to find a nightgown to put on just to go downstairs. Why, I don't know. There's only the two of us here.

Couldn't sleep. Upset stomach. Had a migraine yesterday. Took a Maxalt XT and it finally went away. Phil brought me home a McDonald's grilled chicken and bacon ranch salad for dinner. Yum. Couldn't finish it all. Hmmm, hungry now. Wonder how it would taste this early in the morning?

Phil and I discussed getting up early to view the Perseid meteor showers. He couldn't see them in the sky last night around 11 p.m. so we thought we'd get up early to watch. I'm up. He's still asleep. Maybe I should venture onto the back porch to see if anything's happening. Maybe I should wake him up just in case a bear is venturing out onto my back porch as well.

If I don't post again you'll know the bear got me. HAHA

Shoot! Nothing! Rain is falling from off the trees. The sky is very cloudy and the only thing I could see was a half moon (in the sky). Looks like people in western PA were bummed out all over not getting to view the meteor showers. What a let down.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No major side effects

and not a lot of nausea to complain about. Just tiredness and a little dizziness but some would say that is because I'm blonde. giggle Taking a bath, washing my hair and just a general scrub with the washcloth wears me out. I'm not even talking drying my hair anymore. I just can't do it. If I have to go somewhere I'll put on makeup but the hair goes as is.

Enjoying this week off without chemo. Mom and dad come in on Thursday to visit. I have an appt with the pcp on Friday morning and have to remember a chiropractor appt at noon.

Ralph and Jess stopped over with Chucky and Jassmine on Sunday. Jess said Jassie had been sick all night throwing up. Now Jess is saying that she feels really sick and then Chrystal, Chucky and Jassie's mommy, is also sick so I'm wondering what Jassie had and really hoping that I don't come down with it. Even though I just started chemo I don't know what my blood counts are and don't know if my immunities have been compromised yet. I hope they are going to be well soon!

Had a nice dinner tonight. I fried up steaks in the electric skillet and also made lasagna rollups filled with spinach and ricotta cheese. The one thing I forgot to put in them was mozzarella cheese. Duh!

Opal got loose from her cage tonight and Phil had to chase after her. He finally cornered her down by the quail pen. Dumb dog! It was pouring the rain and he got soaked! At two and a half years old she still acts like such a puppy at times! She was chasing after the rabbits in the yard. They are wild. She'd never be able to catch one.

That's it, Fort Pitt. Time for bed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Unplugged

Yesterday I was unplugged from the chemo bag. That is always such a relief for me. An entire week off with no chemo and no bag to drag around!

I had a slight bit of nausea on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I had to stop and eat a sandwich before we left for the cancer center. If I don't eat I get to feeling sick and I'd rather not get into that. The Zofran gives me headaches so I'm taking the Ativan. They only gave me 30 pills which is not enough if I'm supposed to take one pill every 10 hours.

Last night I told Phil if it comes down to the doctors telling me I need to do a 3rd year of treatment I am going to tell them no. I expected my cancer to have been gone last year after I had such a good reaction to the chemo drugs. Now a year later my cancer is back and another six months or however long to do chemo. There will not be a third time. If this doesn't work that is it. Phil was very upset and angry at me. He thinks I should keep fighting and doing chemo for the remainder of my life. I can't accept a quality of life like that. I'm going to take what I'm given and that's it. I thank God for every single day I've been given but I'm not going to keep doing this in order to get a few more months out of it. I really hope people can understand what I'm saying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It went well

Mom Urban got to the house around 9:30 and we left sometime around 10 for the cancer center. We got there around 10:20 and didn't get into the oncology area until 11:30. Pre-meds Decadron and Aloxi were started at noon and I started the Avastin around 12:30. Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin were started at 2 p.m. and I got the 5-FU pump in fanny pack at 4 and we were out the door by 4:15. Go back on Thursday at 2 p.m. to get disconnected then I am unhooked and free from chemo for an entire week. Next chemo treatment is August 18. I see Dr. Viverette at 9 a.m.

My oncology nurse called in scrips for Zofran and Ativan. We picked them up from the pharmacy and also picked up some groceries. Got home around 5:15. I took a Zofran and laid down.

Phil got home from work around 6:30 and Mom fed him dinner. He had reheated meatloaf from the other night and she also fried potatoes for him and made a cucumber salad. Smelled so good but I didn't dare! She reheated mac & cheese with kielbasi chunks from the other night for me. I had a little bit. It tasted good and hit the spot. She put together the ingredients for chicken noodle soup for tomorrow and left for home. She may stay overnight tomorrow night depending on how I'm feeling.

She is going to spoil Phil if she continue to feed the dogs while she is here. LOL! He's her favorite middle son. giggle

Zofran gives me headaches. I've got a slight one. If it gets worse I'll take one of my Maxalt XT pills for migraines. They work for me within five minutes. Absolutely wonderful. I hate to pop pills but I know what works and what doesn't and I don't want to get so bad I end up in the ER getting a shot of Dilaudid to alleviate the pain from a migraine. Been there done that don't want to do it again.

I am really feeling pretty good and hope I continue to feel this good. I know all about the diarrhea from chemo so I am giving up my pride and bought a package of Depends for when things get really bad.

Last time I was on chemo I lost almost 30 pounds and expect to lose near the same. It's okay. I can stand to lose a little weight. :) The port was able to be accessed today and is working well. My oncology nurses know I'm allergic to plastic tape so I have fabric tape covering the port this time. Sink baths until after the pump comes off on Thursday. It will be great to get a shower that afternoon!

Phil is up at the pond at Foggy Mountain training Bella. He took some ducks with him to train with. She retrieves them without hurting them. She has such a gentle mouth.

That's about it. Am going to take my makeup off and get ready for bed. Will post again tomorrow. It was a good day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tomorrow is Chemo Day

I couldn't sleep last night/early this morning so I got up at midnight and worked on the invitation list for the DAR luncheon I'm helping to organize. I went back to bed at 2:30 a.m.

I had very good intentions when I woke up this morning. I expected to finish all my errands. HA! That did not happen.

I went to the post office to pick up mail then on to the bank to cash a check. Phil had my ATM card. Then I went to McDonald's for my last time through the drive-thru for a while. Then off to Office Max and down to Monro to get the guys to look at my truck. Three hours and $1253 later I was outta there and on my way to see Dr. Tony my chiropractor.

After getting therapy on my back and then adjusted I drove over to Friday's and met Phil for dinner.

It was a very long day but I'm not done yet. There are dishes in the sink from last night's pork roast dinner and then I need to put clean sheets on our bed and also on the one Mom Urban will be sleeping in if she decides to stay with us.

I spoke to the radiology dept at Westmoreland Hosp this morning asking what the name of the wound covering was called that they used to cover up the port site. I have to make a note of it because I'm allergic to it, too.

I'm just hoping the oncology nurse can access my port tomorrow. Mom Urban is taking me in the morning and plans to stay the whole time. The first chemo treatment will be at least five hours long. What takes the longest is the Avastin.

Gotta get moving now. Will write tomorrow.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cancer

My son and his new bride are finally home from their honeymoon so I can post about the return of my cancer.

We met with Dr. Moser, my surgical oncologist, the day after my birthday, July 22. It was very discouraging to hear him say my PET scan showed numerous lymph node activity which looked like my cancer is back. At first he wanted to do a biopsy of what is in the chest but after talking with Dr. Viverette, my medical oncologist, they decided against it and to just proceed with chemo.

I saw Dr. V this past Tuesday. I got my port placed at Westmoreland Hospital on Friday. The radiology department did it. I had 2cc Dilaudid and was awake through the entire thing but no pain whatsoever. I did get claustrophobic when they put the drape over my head and I started crying like a baby. :) They took the drape back off.

My chest and right breast was completely covered in plastic tape which everyone knows I am allergic to. I even had a red bracelet on which says ALLERGY. I itched right after surgery and the rest of the day on Friday. I took the bandages and tape off today to find the entire area is red and blistered. I doubt the oncology department will be able to access my port because of this. Doesn't anyone read? I am not happy at all. It will take weeks for this to go away.

Chemo will be the same chemo regimen I was on before. It is Folfox with Avastin. I would rather do without the Avastin as it doesn't add any benefits at all from what I read of clinical study materials.

Oh, wow! I just re-read the post I did on June 23 titled, "Bad Dreams." I had dreamt that Dr. Moser told me my CEA levels were rising and there were spots on my lungs and in my brain. Well it was a partially accurate prediction that dream. My CEA level is rising slightly. It was 0.7 which is still WELL below normal but there were spots in the chest although not in the lungs and nothing in the brain but hey, we knew that all along. giggle