Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Only 2 More To Go

I went to see my surgeon last Wednesday and I got a nice surprise! We filed my OR papers for much earlier than I thought we could - the week of May 14th. So, now the Foothills OR just has to find time they have availble and ensure my two surgeons are also available at that same time. So, it might be after May 14th, but knowing that it could be 2 months sooner than I thought is great. I hope to hear from the hospital in the next couple of weeks with a confirmed date. Then my mom is going to come out for the first 2 weeks to help and Ryan will take off the following two weeks.

My 6th round of chemo was yesterday. So, far I feel like each round keeps getting better and better! I told Ryan to go to work yesterday because it's his busiest time of the year, so he dropped me off and I got all settled in my hospital bed by 10 am. They dripped the same medications as last time and the only real change that I noticed was that they did not make me nearly as tired as the last time. So, this time when Tricia came to visit and brought me lunch, I could actually keep my eyes awake to visit for a while! My day was done around 4 pm and I've been feeling really good since then.

Now I just wait for any side effects that may surface. Day 3 is usually when the joint aches start, but this time my doctor gave me some codeine to help if needed. My numbness and tingling will probably start next week and will be a bit more intense than last time.My mom flies in tonight to help us out again - thanks mom!!! Then my dad arrives on Friday for a visit and they will leave on Sunday. I can't begin to explain how great it is that my parents have been so flexible with their schedules to come and help at the drop of a hat. No one can make you feel better like your mommy.

I hope you're all having a great week, I know that I am! Send me a quick note on my guestbook or an email if you're up to it - I'd love to hear what's new with you and yours.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Some Clarity

Things are still going really well. I am amazed each day that I even had a chemo treatment just one week ago. Tricia said something that made me laugh the other day, she said "that's what chemo is supposed to feel like!". If that's true, the next 3 cycles are much less worrisome.

The one big difference that I have noticed with these set of drugs is that I have some mental clarity much quicker. With the last cycles, I found that even by the end of week 3, my brain felt fuzzy and things weren't coming out of my mouth as clearly as they were laid out in my head. But I have felt a mental energy that reminds me of how I used to feel before the treatments even started. Unfortunately I tend to get ahead of my physical energy and find myself in bed by about 2 pm each day to catch up.

My next set of treatments are already booked for the week of the 26th. I felt so good over the weekend that I told my mom I was going to call my nurse this week and get my next cycle moved up. But, as the fatigue has set in this week, I decided to not overdo it.

Next week I go to see my surgeon, Dr. Daphne Mew. She is really great and did a great job with my first surgery. We will discuss timing for my next surgery and the recovery from that. For those of you know that know me well - I already have my questions all prepared for her.

With the clarity that I'm starting to feel, it gives me more of a chance to reflect on this journey that I have been on so far. I believe that most things in life happen for a reason and it's up to us to figure out why. Many Breast Cancer survivors say that getting this disease was the best thing that ever happened to them. They all gained some type of clarity that they didn't have before.

With your life hanging in a delicate balance, you do tend to think about what things are important to you and what you want out of your life. It's actually too bad that we have to go through something so intense to think so deeply about these things, but I hope that my experience will make each of you give this some more thought.

In Tricia's blog she talks about some wise advice that a friend recently gave her. I am going to copy in that part because she says it better than I ever could. "On one lunch, a wise friend asked me if I had made a list of things I wanted to do, especially in this "limbo" period, where I am well enough to do some things but not healthy enough to return to work. The truth is, I've had an informal list ever since my diagnosis almost 10 years ago. I haven't ever formalized the list, but now I am thinking I should. From experience, I know if I write something down it is far more likely that I will do it! What's on your life list?"

At Long View, we do Career Life Planning. It allows everyone the chance to plan out what they want their career and their life to look like from now until retirement. It is a great exercise and really gets you to start thinking about these hard questions that many of us might not otherwise. This clarity has got me thinking that we could do even more to help people with their Life List. I am not sure of the details of this yet, but I think this might be one of the lessons that I can learn from my journey and something that I can really leverage to give back to society.

If we were all able to clearly detail our life list, it shouldn't matter when our time was up, because we knew what we wanted out of our life and were working towards it. Never has the saying "live each day like it's your last" had such meaning as now.

What's on your Life List?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My First TH Treatment

Our day started off leaving our house around 7:30 in the morning. Ryan turned on the radio and the darth vadar theme was playing on the classical channel, so he turned that up to help us get in the mood of "kicking ass" in his words. I went for a chest x-ray at 8:30 and then to the other end of the hospital for an EKG. I probably won't get these results until I see my doctor next in a couple of weeks.

My chemo was scheduled for 9:30, but because of the large number of cancer patients, they are usually running a bit behind. So, at 10 they came and got me and took me to a new area - the area where people are there for more than 4 hours. It includes a bed and a little TV to keep you occupied.

They started by finding a vein that was good enough, that took 2 pokes. Then they started dripping the cocktails to stop most of the possible side effects. My first mix was Bendryl and Zantac, one for potential allergic reactions and the other for heartburn. The next mix was Zofran and Dexamethosone, one for anti-nausea and the other a steroid to kick up the anti-nausea even more.

After those, I had a really hard time keeping my eyes open. But, next was the first of two drugs that could cause me problems so I had to stay awake at least for the first 15 minutes to watch for what might come. The first drug was Taxol and it went great. No effects at all, other than as soon as the 15 minutes was up I fell right asleep. This drip took just over 3 hours and the major effects I had so far were hunger and sleepiness - not bad!

Tricia came for a visit around lunch and Ryan went and got us some food. That was really weird for me. As most of you know, Tricia had a very scary ordeal last summer and fall and I spent a lot of time with her at the hospital. She was usually sleepy and telling me to just go home. I would always tell her to just sleep and I would just sit there. It wasn't until yesterday that I got to realize first hand why that must have been so hard for her. Because you feel really guilty that someone came all the way from the South End to spend time with you and all you can do is sleep!

The next drip started around 2:30 and it was the Herceptin. It had the same scary side effects for the first 15 minutes, so I sat up again in bed and waited. Luckily for me (and all of your positive anti-nausea vibes), this one went great as well. No side effects! So, back to sleep for me. This drip finished at about 4:15 and then I was under observation until 5:15.

Because of the freezing rain we got in Calgary yesterday, we were home around 6:30 and I was asleep shortly after. Now because of my massive amount of sleep lately - I am not sleepy anymore at 2 am.

The next few days are to watch again for what may come. The big things to expect are nausea & vomiting (so far so good, keep your fingers crossed), muscle & joint pain - which has started a bit, but could get to the feeling like a "bus hit you" in my nurse's words and the neuropathy - numbness in my limbs. I will keep you posted - as long as I can still type!!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Anti-Nausea Vibes

We're off to the hospital in a few minutes. My counts were great yesterday! Since you're all educated on blood counts now, my netrophils were 2.6 - which is at the low range of normal.

We are heading there a bit early because they want to run a chest x-ray and EKG on my chest to try and figure out why I've been having chest pains. Then, it's a 7-9 hour chemo day - phew.

So, as I told some of you ...around 9:30 am, please send some anti-nausea vibes to the hospital for me!