Monday, December 25, 2006

What? Something I Can't Control...

With the news that my chemo was delayed, it has slowed everything down a bit. My life was moving along on such a fast pace and then I was forced to slow down. I do believe that most things in life happen for a reason and that there are still many lessons for me to learn from this little adventure in my life - but taking the time to slow down and realizing that we aren't as in control of things as we think has been a hard one for me.

As with the last two rounds, this round was different. They asked me to start with some of my anti nausea medications even before I got the chemo and they gave me a large amount of fluid at the end of my treatment. Also, because of the week delay in starting, my blood counts were much higher than at the beginning of the last round. Whatever it was that made the change, I found myself feeling a lot better sooner and that was a very welcome surprise! So welcome, that I overdid it a bit on Thursday, getting ready for the arrival of my brother (Chad) that night and my parents the next day. Which then left me spending Friday on the couch.

The mornings have been a bit rougher than I have let on to my family. The nausea, fogginess in my head and overall fatigue has stayed with me throughout the whole week, but something about Christmas and family, makes it more beareable. Although Ryan and I said a year ago, that we were going to spend this holiday in Calgary for the first time, we now don't have an option. The doctors want me to try and be within a 1 hour drive from the Cancer Center throughout my chemo treatments. So, my brother and parents graciously came to us!

As with every holiday, there has been way too much food, an abundance of presents and lots of unexpected fun! Those of you who know Chad, know that we are pretty competitive at some things. The one time of year we come together to create something great is when we build our gingerbread house. This year, Tricia also agreed to help us, which we definitely did not pass up - she is crazy artistic and nobody can pipe icing like her! With all of this confidence, I decided that we needed to step it up a bit and bought us a Fairty Tale Cottage Cake Pan, instead of our regular gingerbread house. We bought the chocolate cake mix and all of these great accessories for our house, what we did overestimate however was that we could put a regular cake mix in the special pan. So, instead of spending our time decorating the Fairy Tale Cottage, we spent the better part of one day trying to get the cake out of the pan once it was cooked. When we finally got it out...well, let's just say that it didn't really look much like the beautiful picture on the pan.

With the holidays starting to wind down around here, life will unfortunately get back to normal. What is it about Christmas that makes everything seem so magical and perfect? I wish I could hold onto that feeling forever!

It's now time to get ready for week 2 starting tomorrow, which means that my counts will drop and I have to rest, rest, rest. This is especially important this time to ensure that I am not delayed again and my counts will get back up to the levels that they need to be to start Round 4. This will be the last round of my A/C regimen and then for the next 4 rounds I will start a new set of chemo medications. I have heard different viewpoints on whether it will be worse or the same, so I think that it's another way of telling me to just "slow down, concentrate on the now and stop trying to control everything". I guess that lesson will just take a few more rounds to sink in.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Game On!

I was at the Cancer Center this morning having my blood work re run again. At 1 pm, I got the message from my nurse that my counts were strong and I am able to have my treatment as planned tomorrow at 8 am.

The doctors have made a couple of changes to my medication and added in some more fluid to the IV drip tomorrow and are hopeful that these changes might make things a bit easier on me. I've heard that twice before... but am still hopeful that it will improve things slightly and allow me to have a fairly good Christmas with my family.

I have heard that eating beef the night before treatment is helpful, so we're going to eat a home made italian lasagna. One of the great people that I work with - Lori, had her grandma make it for us. If that can't make things better...I don't know what can?!

If I can, I will write again before Christmas, but if not - have a great day with your loved ones, you will all be in my thoughts when I think of how thankful I am for the great people in my life!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Reason to be Thankful

The fun doesn't end for our family. Early this morning, Talyn decided that after looking at our stockings hung on the mantle for several weeks, it was time to pull one of them off. Unfortunately, they were hung on our mantle with some very heavy stocking holders. So, Talyn got a corner of the stocking holder on his left front forehead.

Let me say right now that Talyn is okay. We took him to the Urgent Care and they did some x-rays to ensure there was no fracture of his skull - which there was not. He ended up with his first 2 stitches, a lot of bloody residue and a "you had an x-ray" sticker.

Although this definitely pushed Ryan and I over the point of stress that we can handle, we are very thankful that it wasn't any worse. There were a lot of sick people that were at the center and we were lucky enough to take our slightly bloody child home with us.

So parents, please beware of your stocking holders - who knew that they could be so unmerry?!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Off the Tracks

I got a call from the hospital this afternoon and unfortunately, my counts were even lower today than they were yesterday. They have scheduled me for a chemo treatment for next Tuesday and I will go for blood again next Monday to ensure I can go ahead with this.

This news was pretty devastating. This whole adventure is not one that I planned for, but you do plan for the end date. The end date of my chemotherapy was supposed to be the end of April, but with this delay so early I wonder when I will really be done.

If they had gone ahead today, it would have been very risky health wise. My counts are so low now, that if they had started another cycle, they would have most likely wiped them out completely by next week. That might have ended in me being in the hospital for Christmas and I would much rather be on my couch.

In case I can't write again before you all of you go and spend the holidays with your loved ones - know that I am thankful that you are all in my life.

The Rollercoaster Contines

I went for a doctor's appointment yesterday to ensure that I was strong enough for today's session of chemo and found out that my counts were too low. They retested them all this morning to see if by chance they have come up overnight. Now we are jumping at every phone call that comes in to see what our day holds.

There are obviously good and bad things about whatever happens, but ultimately if I'm not healthy enough to get through another round today, then it's best that I wait until next week. The hardest part about this will be my Christmas plans will have to be changed.

This is another "test" of this whole process for me. As you know, I am a planner and live by planning in advance many aspects of my life. So, when one thing gets moved back a week, it is really hard for me to think about replanning everything.

To all those "last minute" kind of people ... this kind of living by the moment is really hard, you'll have to send me some pointers!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Round 2 Done and the Fog is Lifting

So, I now compare chemo to childbirth. There is definitely a reason that it is in 3 week cycles. There must be a hormone that gets infused in your body to have you completely forget how bad the last round was. Then, as soon as you’re back in it again – it all comes back to you!

This time things were a bit better in that they were better able to control the vomiting – but, by doing that they had me on as many medications as often as I could be. So, I was literally taking a combination of 5 different anti-nausea drugs. It seemed like every hour it was time to take something else and it left me in a really medicated state. I also learned my lesson from last time that I should be calling in once I start having problems – which I did. However, basically they said that I was taking as much as they could give me, so to just try my best to keep fluids down or else I might be hospitalized. Luckily – that didn’t happen.

My good friend Tricia called yesterday afternoon to see how I was doing and as soon as I answered the phone she said “I can tell by your voice that the fog is starting to lift” and I knew exactly what she meant. I have the wonderful luxury and ironic sadness of having a friend like Tricia who has been through the same protocol for chemo as I’m doing – so she knows exactly how I feel. This time it took 5 days until I started to feel a bit like myself again and even today, it’s turning around even more. And it’s funny how already I am starting to forget how bad last week got J.

The other big thing that has changed since the last time I emailed you all is that my hair fell out. So, a bit over a week ago Ryan and our friend Nathan had the pleasure of shaving my head to ¼ of an inch long. That really helped with the longer strands that were getting all over our house. But, by Monday, the stubble was really hurting because it was still falling out so quickly. So, Ryan got out his razor and finished the job.

Although I knew this was going to happen, I was really dreading it. Not from an aesthetic point of view (they are going to cut off my breasts in 6 months, so I have my head around the fact that aesthetics don’t mean much these days J). But, I knew that once my hair fell out, I would have a constant reminder every time I looked in the mirror or went out that I was sick. Until now, it was just something that doctors talked about and I had to deal with for the first week of chemo, but otherwise life was fairly normal.

It was truly amazing how everyday people changed once I had no hair. At first, I thought I must have something on my face because people would stare at me, but then I slowly realized that this is how things will be now. Every time I go out the door, I have a physical sign that I have cancer and the stares from strangers is another thing that I have to deal with and will eventually get used to.

So, another round is done. It definitely had its lows, but now I am really looking forward to the highs. My company Christmas party is coming up in less than 2 weeks and I will be able to go. Christmas is a great time to remind us how lucky we are to have such great friends and family and that is what this weekend does for me.

A friend from work sent me an email about a guy who traveled around the US giving out Free Hugs to anyone that wanted them. I found it truly inspirational and grounding for me to remember what life is all about. If I haven’t already sent it to you, take the 2 minutes to look at it and see what problems he runs into as he tries to make the world a better place by offering some support to anyone who needs it. I say that we can all use a little extra support from those we care about now and then, so thanks to you all for giving me that!

Monday, November 6, 2006

Chemotherapy is definitely not for wusses!

So last you heard from me, it was Tuesday night and I was flying high – literally and probably about 20 minutes after I sent that email, the world all changed. It was shocking how quickly everything changed. I always thought I was pretty tough – but this was definitely my hardest test so far to see how tough I am. It’s hard to explain what happened, but my body started rejecting what had been put into it and I couldn’t keep anything down for 36 hours. I felt as if my body was filled with toxins and I ached from the inside out. The 3 anti-nausea medications that I was required to take also weren’t near enough, so I slept in my bathroom for about 20 minutes at a time L.

After the nausea started to subside on Thursday night, then the feelings of aching started to take over and again, my whole body felt as if it was bathed in toxins. The next two days I spent lying in bed – unable to sleep, but the thought of rolling over and getting a drink of water was overwhelming with the amount of energy I had. Finally, by Saturday night, I started to feel more and more like me again – thank goodness.

Yesterday, I spent the day feeling pretty good, except now I am overwhelmed by this weird fatigue. My counts have started to drop and that can affect people differently. It can hit your White Blood Cells – which are important in fighting infection and germs, your Red Blood Cells – which give us energy, your Platelets – which help clot blood and stop bleeding or all 3 of them. So far, I definitely notice that I am tired much easier and spend most of my day sitting down and taking much bigger breaths in to help me breathe. These little things we all take for granted every day are now something I am very mindful of.

Today starts my Day 7, which means the next week I am supposed to do what I can to avoid infection or germs of any kind because if my white cells do drop, I won’t have much to fight anything I get with and it can get from bad to worse very quickly. So, that means that my mom literally has me held captive in my house, while we wait and see what this week holds.

Thanks for all of your great emails and support – it’s important to keep laughing throughout all of this and that is what you have each helped me do! If you can do one thing to help me today, it’s to cherish those around you and tell them that you love them. We can get so caught up in day to day life, that we take the greatest things in our lives for granted.

Thanks for being so important to me and love to you all as well!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Life is interesting - isn't it???

As many of you know, I have been spending a lot of time with my best friend who recently found out that she is terminally ill with Leukemia. What you didn’t know, is that at the beginning of July, I found a lump in my right breast and have been going through various tests over the past month and a bit, assuming it was nothing. Unfortunately, yesterday I found out that I have Breast Cancer and at this point, they have classified it as Level 2 out of 3, so moderately aggressive. What that means is that I am on an emergency list for surgery and this will likely happen in the next 3 weeks. Following this, I will have to undergo some intensive radiation for 5 weeks, daily. Then, depending on how far this has spread at the time of surgery, I may also have chemotherapy treatments as well.

Right after I found out this news, I went next door to the Tom Baker Cancer Center and visited my friend Tricia. She had some great news for me – she is in remission with her Leukemia. This is truly a miracle! Although she is still battling a few other potentially life threatening complications, things are definitely looking up and her lifeline has completely changed – but perhaps so has mine.

Ryan and I have a bunch of literature to continue to read through and some decisions to make by next Wednesday of which type of surgery that is best for me to undergo. Then we really are playing it by ear and it all depends on what they find during the surgery as to what my next treatment will be.