Friday, December 29, 2006

Fri Dec 29th

For those of you not around Colorado we are receiving our 2nd huge snow storm in the last week. The airport is closed yet again and we are snowed into the house to enjoy each other's company...or better yet misery :-) It is supposed to snow until Sunday morning. We are counting down the min to nap time at the moment.

There were a few people that were asking me about my port, so I thought I would take a picture of it....

It is on my left side between my shoulder and my chest. The scar is from where they had to cut to insert it under my skin. It looks like a pop bottle cap sitting under the skin and then they just poke the needle in the middle of it each time. The line goes up into my neck and feeds into one of the major arteries that goes to my heart. So there is the scoop on that.

I went to chemo on Wednesday with my sisters Toni and Amy and also my mom. We saw the nurse practitioner Lisa and she had said that another option for surgery would be to go in and have the radiologist place clips in my breast around the perimeter of where the tumor was first discovered. Then they would go in a remove that whole area and examine it under the microscope to see if there were any remaining microscopic cancer cells left. This was another option if I wanted to do a breast conservation surgery. Seeing as how I am not all that well endowed in the first place going in a taking a mass out that was 4 cm by 3 cm would leave me not very well proportioned between the left and right side. She also explained that they usually will not consider doing reconstruction if you are doing a lumpectomy. After hearing that news I had decided that I would probably still go with a mastectomy on the right side.

Both Amy and Toni stayed with me through treatment and mom went and got all of us Red Robin for lunch. Treatment last most of the afternoon and by the time I got home at 5pm or so I was feeling pretty horrible. I spent the rest of the night in bed or hanging over the toilet.

Thursday I went to hydration (just to get fluids) with my sister Toni and her husband Doug. This usually helps you to stay better hydrated and feeling better overall.
Dr. Medgyese came in to speak with me during my hydration time on Thursday. She said after hearing my thoughts on the new line of thinking for surgery she had contacted some of her colleagues at MD Anderson and came up with a new option since that last one wasn't as cosmetically acceptable. Since I already have a clip that was placed in the center of the tumor when the biopsy was done they will take that clip and have the radiologist attach a wire to it so the surgeon will be able to locate it easily. They will then take a lump out of the breast about a centimeter in diameter and look at that under the microscope. If it is clear of microscopic cancer seed cells that is the end of the surgery. If there are still cancer cells in there they will go ahead and do a mastectomy while I am still in the OR. Either way they will also be doing an auxiliary lymph node dissection of an area under my arm. I feel pretty comfortable with this new line of thinking in that I might be able to conserve my breast and not have to worry about multiple reconstructive surgeries more than a year away. I will still have to do radiation after surgery no matter what option is done.

I still felt pretty horrible for the rest of the day on Thursday as well. This treatment is proving to be the hardest as far as nausea goes. Good news is that I got to skip doing the Neulasta shot this time. I am still feeling really nauseous even this morning. I called the doctor to skip my hydration this morning since it would probably be more trouble than it was worth to try to get out to the doctor. The merry maids did make it to my house this morning so that was a good thing, at least we don't have to worry about getting the house put together. Here is a cute picture of Jon and I at his parents house for Christmas.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tues Dec 26th

I am feeling pretty close to normal which is a good sign that another Chemo is just around the corner. (Darn) I have had the worst cramps I have ever experienced the last few days which has been my only complaint. I guess that is what I get when I haven't had "that time of the month" in about 3 months and then get it again. So looking forward to another round of chemo on Wednesday and then hydration on Thursday and Friday.
I received some bad news on Sunday about someone I see at Chemo every now and again. Randy was 16 and diagnosed with leukemia and then found out last month that he had relasped and could do nothing else to treat his cancer. He passed away on Saturday night. He was always so happy. It is so sad that he was so young and his life was claimed by this horrible disease. I wish his family peace during this time.
It was a white Christmas this year and that is pretty exciting. Haven't had one of those in a few years. I have really enjoyed that it feels like winter outside. We had someone do the 12 days of Christmas for us this year which was pretty fun. For those of you unfamiliar with this someone leaves little goodies for you on your door starting with 12 days before Christmas every night that correlates with the song the 12 days of Christmas. The kids had a fun time looking outside to see what was left at the door.
My sister Toni and her husband Doug were still able to make it here on Friday from Salt Lake and it has been fun to have all my brothers and sisters here. Doug shaved his head for me a few days before they got here. They were going to shave their dog Buddy's head too. That would have been hilarious. Toni is taking a leave of absence from work to help me out for the next month. She will stay through the 25th of January and my last bad treatment will be the 17th so that will be a huge help for me. What a great sister!

Jon and I went to our friend's the Morby's on Friday to do Fondue night with Heath and Alyssa Morby, Aislinn and Desi Valdez, and Mike and Michelle Sims. We have done it a few times in the past and is becoming a fun event to have every few months. On Saturday we went out to eat with all the "adults" in my family to the Outback. It was nice to have a night with the adults and leave the kiddos at home. Jon and I were also able to escape to a movie afterwards which was a bonus. I love being able to go on a "date night" with just the two of us.
On Sunday we spent the afternoon with Jon's parents and the kids over in Windsor. Presents were of course a big hit with the kids. A CD/Tape player for Olivia, doll and stroller for Alex, and a little people farm for Cody. They also got a play tent for all of them. We had a nice time visiting and exchanging gifts and are so glad they live close by. We made it home fairly early which was a good thing since the twins skipped their nap and we were all exhausted. Jon and I were in bed and asleep before 10 which is unheard of under this roof.
Christmas day we got up and headed straight for my parents house. Santa knew we were going over there so he dropped off all of our stockings over there...(pretty smart guy, less for mom to keep track of Christmas morning) Like I mentioned earlier all of my siblings and their spouses and families were at my parents house this year so we had a house - full. It was awesome. 13 adults and 10 kids. I loved it. Presents everywhere and all sorts of commotion. I can't think of anywhere else in the world I would have rather been. My sister Toni had bought these "bald wigs" for everyone and we took a family picture with all the baldies....

How funny is that?? I thought it was great. Again, presents were a big hit on Christmas day. Lego's, movies, barbies, clothes. Good times. We all just hung out around the house for most of the day and then I went to see a movie with my mom and sisters, The Holiday. It was defiantly a chick flick, but I thought it was pretty good. If your into chick flicks :-)

Today I just hung out around the house trying to get all sorts of little things done around the house before I feel like bologna for the next week. My sister Amy came over and helped me take down my Christmas tree and go through some baby clothes that I wanted to get out of storage. Yeah, lots to pass on or take to good will and get out of my basement. Also nice to have my house back to normal. My sister Toni and her husband Doug took Olivia and my other nephew Cole sledding this morning. This has become one of her favorite things and has already been twice with Toni since she has been here. Jon installed my Christmas present in my car (some IPod remote thing). Looks pretty cool and I am excited to use it.
I just can't believe how lucky I am to have such an awesome and supportive family and a great husband. I don't know where I would be without them. I can't believe that he still thinks I am cute with no fingernails or hair, what is he thinking?? Okay, I put lots more pictures on my link from last month so feel free to check those out, mostly of my cute kids :-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wed Dec 20th

BRRR! It's a blizzard out there! I went this morning to do my Herceptin at the cancer center and it was windy but not very much snow was on the ground. By the time we left around 9:45 it was coming down hard. Olivia had her Christmas sing-a-long program at school this morning which was pretty cute and entertaining. About 40 or 50 three and four year old jingling their hand bells and singing a variety of Christmas and kids songs. They even did sign language for twinkle twinkle little star. Pretty cute. My mom, sister Amy, and myself tried to go shopping this afternoon but when we got to Penny's they were closing at 2pm due to the snow. When we left there it took about 45 min to get home from Fort Collins and decided we better stay at home for the rest of the day. Jon went out with his friend Desi and played in the Jeep pulling people out of the snow that were stuck and being your typical boys. I am sure they had the time of their lives. I am feeling fairly normal, which is nice. Other than my fingernails being extreamly tender and having a stuffy nose at night I feel okay. I think we are going to be snowed in for the rest of the week. Our house has huge snow drifts all around it. I think I will be a white Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Dec 15th

It's been a week since my Neulasta shot and I am still noticing the lower back pain. At least Ibuprofen does the trick, I no longer have to take the pain pills for it. I am doing pretty well otherwise. If I am careful and eat the second I get hungry I don't get sick to my stomach. I haven't had to take my nausea meds since Wednesday. Still feel pretty low on energy though and that is hard to deal with. My middle fingernails are now starting to come off as well as my thumbs. Yuck is all I have to say about that.
I went into do my Herceptin on Wednesday and that only took about an hour which is a nice switch from being there several hours on the regular treatment days. I also went down to the airport with my Mom and Dad to pick up my sister Amy and her kids. It was great to be able to see them.

Thursday was busy here at my house. I had my sister and her kids over, so all the kids had a great time being able to play with their cousins and Amy helped me do some stuff around the house that I wanted to get done. I had my friend Angela stop by for awhile with her baby Madison who I haven't seen in quite awhile so it was great to be able to visit with her and catch up. Also my brother Ethan and his wife Brandy and their new baby Isis stopped by for a bit. They are adjusting well to being new parents. Brandy has talked with her doctors more about her options and they are thinking that they will have to remove her kidney, the tumor growing on the kidney, and also part of her spleen after the first of the year. They will not know much more about it until after it is removed and a biopsy is performed. In the afternoon Olivia and Cole made gingerbread cookies and had a good time decorating them. We all had a big family dinner at my parent's house last night with all my brothers and sisters that are here. Toni is the only one were missing and her and Doug will be here next Friday. We are all so excited to see them!

One of my friends from my twins club here in town emailed me this morning and sent me some pictures of her twin boys, Will and DJ. They both shaved their heads for me yesterday. Their mom was telling them about my progress after reading my blog and they said they wanted to shave their heads to help me. They are so cute!! Thanks boys, I put your name on the groupies list.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Dec 11

I am not on the ball this month! Buddy check 9 day was on Saturday so don't forget to do your monthly self breast exam this month. There is a link to 9 news on the side bar for those that want more information about the self breast exam.
The bone pain is still ever present. I feel like I was hit by a train. My lower back (pelvis) is still the most uncomfortable but my ribs, shoulder blades, and bottom of my skull all hurt also. The nausea still comes in waves but it hasn't been constant. The nurse said that the bone pain can last up to 6 days so hopefully we are getting into the last few days.
On Saturday we had Jon's aunt and uncle John and Clara over for the afternoon to exchange gifts. They brought us a yummy honey baked ham for dinner and we really enjoyed getting the time to visit. My sister Amy and her kids are flying into Denver on Wednesday and will be here for a few weeks. We are so excited to see her.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Dec 8

It seems like an eternity since my last post....My cold is now gone, finally, and the mouth sore is almost gone. Along with both my pointer fingernails I should add. I am guessing by the way my nails look I will loose at least 4 others if not more. B-E-A-utiful. (Bruce Almighty quote for those of you that missed the joke:-) As long as we are on the subject of things falling off my hair is also falling out again. I haven't had to shave my legs or armpits all week and I am down to a few sporadic eyebrows. My lashes are still hanging on at this point. At least this time it isn't a big deal, being as though it is almost non-existent any-who. From what I am told I should expect to but a cue ball head for the next little bit, no more of this super short hair, we are going for no hair and a shiny head. BRRR is all I have to say this time of year.
Wednesday I went in for my "FEC Chemo Cocktail" as us chemo regulars refer to it as. I was able to avoid my cytoxin headache this time by having that medication infused slower so that was one good point. My port still is tender and hurt somewhat to be accessed even though I had my emla cream on it so I opted to leave it "tapped" to go in for hydration on both Thursday and today. I wonder if that stupid thing will ever not bother me?? The downside to Chemo was my blood counts White count is at 3.5 and Red count is at 4.05. Since normal range for white starts at 4.1 I had to plan on taking the dreaded Neulasta shot the following day. Darn it! They give my body time to take on the Chemo for a day before the cells start reproducing and then give me the Neulasta shot the next day to start producing more White cells. My Red counts were down also but they didn't seem to be as worried about them. The rest of the Chemo process was fairly non eventful.
I also had an appointment with Dr. Medgeyesy yesterday. I just love her. I can't help but think I won the lottery in being led to this woman. She still wants to consult with my surgeon Dr. Chiavetta more about my options for surgery but would recommend me still doing a mastectomy on the right side. Due to not enough evidence of the way a tumor shrinks they are not sure if microscopic cancer seed cells would still be laying on the outer edges of where the tumor started out. She explained that if I were 60 and we were finding this she would feel that going in and trying to do a lumpectomy in the area where the breast clip is currently located along with a partial removal of lymph nodes under my arm would be a possibility and get me through another 20 years. Since I am so young she said if it were her she would elect to do the mastectomy. From her explanation of the "shrinking" process I feel pretty confident in saying that I concur with her opinion. (another movie line from catch me if you can) I still have questions about whether or not it is a good idea to go ahead and do a bilateral mastectomy since I still do I have a somewhat higher probability of getting cancer again on the left side but need to get some other questions answered from my surgeon, plastic surgeon, and also insurance company first and foremost. This crap ain't free :-) You are always having to get permission from someone unfortunately. I feel a little more clear about the path we are headed down for surgery but not any less anxious about it.
The rest of my day on Wednesday was pretty rough. Lots of nausea, but no throwing up. Thursday I went in and did hydration in the morning with Jon and Olivia. Olivia has been asking since day one when she gets to go to the doctor with me and since this way hydration and takes just over an hour and Dad came with us I thought it would be a good day for her to go. She brought her "church bag" and read books and colored with dad. She got to meet the nurses at the office and also hang out with Lanie and Karin again. Yesterday was Karin's last day of chemo, and Lanie finished her chemo about 2 weeks ago. YOU GO GIRLS!! Of course we took some pictures and I posted them up on the snapfish link on the side of the page that says "Eliza's Pictures". I also had to get that Neulasta shot yesterday. Olivia said "Don't worry I will hold your hand mom." Which she soon regretted when I was squeezing all her fingers together. Whoops. Those shots hurt though, darn it. I think she had a good time with her dad there to entertain her and I knew her curiosity was getting the best of her wondering what I did at the doctor's office all the time. Thursday was more of the same experiencing heavy nausea but no throwing up and my pelvis started to hurt. My mom did the oils on my feet and I was so relaxed I went right to bed a little after 9pm. Unfortunately my son was up about 6 times between the hours of 2am and 4:30am. What a weirdo. He kept waking up screaming like he was having bad dreams and then he decided that he had a cough, so I had to get up and get him cough medicine. Then I think he was just mad that he was awake and couldn't get up and play so he just sat in bed and yelled until he fell back to sleep. That left me laying in bed awake on and off trying to keep from laying on the "tapped" port and then having Jon roll into bed at about 5:30 or so. This working nights bologna is not the fun route to go.
Hydration again today at 10:30 coupled with a serious dose of Ativan (for nausea). The Merry Maids came by to do my bathrooms and kitchen, which has been a godsend. I get 2 certificates a month to use at participating providers for Hope Lives! a support group in Fort Collins and I use both of them for cleaning my house. I love it. It takes so much energy to do that kind of stuff and it's so nice to leave and come home to a clean house. I also started taking my pain meds for bone pain this afternoon. The pelvis pain is well underway. I was warned this would probably be the first to start to ache since it is such a large bone.
I have to say thanks to everyone that helped us out this week from dinners, to watching kids, doing laundry, wrapping my Christmas presents, running kids around, and calling to check in. You guys are awesome, and I wouldn't be able to do make it without and you!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mon Dec 5th

Well another day another side effect.......I am finally getting over my cold but now I am dealing with mouth sores. I am one on the very end of my tongue that is killing me. It is about the size of a pea which as far as mouth sores go is the size of a crater. I have decided that sores on your tongue and especially at the tip of your tongue might be the worse place to have them. You don't realize how much your darn tongue moves around for talking, eating, picking your teeth, etc. I also have a permanent retainer on the back of my bottom teeth that it conveniently rubs against all the time. I wish I could just bite it off. Needless to say I have been dealing with this sore being extremely painful for 3 days now. I am using the Ambesol numbing gel about every 45 min. I think the package says use 4 times a day.....I guess I may be overdosing??? Oh well, whatever works I guess is what I am going to go with. In the meantime my meals have been restricted to pretty much nothing besides ensure, carrot/apple juice, and anything else REALLY soft.
Also my bruising fingernails have now shown signs of falling off. Both my pointer fingers are working their way to about 1/2 way hanging on and the other ones aren't far behind that. Nice.... So I guess those dreams of keeping my fingernails are also going to be shattered. They don't really hurt, they are just tender. But they look awful. I am going to start wearing hats and gloves both. There isn't much that is fun about this unfortunately. I guess the whole idea of having a horrible week and then 2 good weeks is not realistic. For now I will have to say a horrible week and then 2 mediocre weeks.
I am already due to have my next FEC treatment this Wednesday so back to my nasty week without having very much normalcy since my previous treatment. DANG!! We put out all our Christmas decorations yesterday and put up our Christmas tree. I just love this time of year. I have been listening to Christmas songs every change I get and I love the smell of the tree in the house. I could do without the pine needles but I suppose that is just a part of it unless you want to break down and buy a fake tree. (which Jon refuses to do) Maybe I can get one on an after Christmas sale.
We also found out today that my sister-in-law Brandy that just had the baby still hasn't been released from the hospital due to her high blood pressure. She had the baby last Tuesday. Yesterday they decided to run some tests and have found that her kidney is 4 larger than normal. They will be doing some blood work and other tests to find out what exactly is going on later today. Let's hope that she is alright, adjusting to having a new baby is enough to deal with.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thur Nov 30th

Today is my 5 year anniversary. Yikes I can't imagine what it will feel like to be married for 10 and 20 years when it already seems like we have been together forever, I love it!!
My brother Ethan and his wife Brandy had their baby yesterday morning at 3am via C section. Isis Kason is his name and he was 5lbs 8oz. Tiny baby. I think we are going to try and make it over to visit him today at some point. Last I heard he was in the NICU getting some help breathing but he was 4 weeks early so I guess that is to be expected.
My kids loved the snow yesterday and they all got dressed up and played for a little bit. The twins only lasted about 10 min outside since it was so cold. I don't think it got above 20 here yesterday. BRRRR!! I will put some pictures on my link of them. I love the snow, I don't think it snows near enough.
Yesterday I went in to do my Herceptin in the blizzard yucky weather bright and early. I had a stuffy nose on Tuesday when I went to bed and has developed into a cold, but no sore throat or fever so that is good. When I walked into the office I dropped my new glasses and the lens fell out of them and then I remembered that I forgot to put my Emla cream on my port. DARN!!! I have never forgotten to do that and I knew it was going to hurt.....and it did, bad. I feel like such a baby but my port access point was still sore from being accessed 5 times last week so I think that made it even worse. I won't ever forget to do that again. My blood counts are also very low this week, both red and white which also explains why I have a bit of a cold and am exhausted. Everything else yesterday went by fine and no side effects with the Herceptin so I feel okay besides the cold and not having any energy. But at least I am not hanging over the toilet.
My mom finally got her juicer and I have been having carrot/apple juice a few times a day. It is supposed to be good for your blood, so hopefully that will help. Also still continuing with the essential oil massages. Hopefully between all that I will have better counts next week and keep avoiding taking the Neulasta shots.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tues Nov 28th

I finally decided today that my eyes were watering bad enough to go and get them checked out again. The Opthamologist checked to see if they were draining properly and determined they were blocked. Kinda interesting how they check this. He squirts some dye into your eye, then you blink a few times and blow your nose into a tissue. If they dye can be seen in the tissue under the black light then they are draining properly. So the dye wasn't in my tissue, of course. He suggested that we try and irrigate them to see if that would remove the obstruction. This sounded pretty harmless so I agreed. He started getting out all these swabs and syringes and needles and I was like, "Um, hold on a second, what exactly does this irrigation procedure entail?" He assured me he wouldn't be poking me with needles and that it wouldn't hurt. They put these drops in your eyes to numb the muscles up around your eye so it is easier to work with and then put some numbing medication on a Q-tip swab on stick it on your duct by your nose. Then he goes in there with an instrument that he tries to open up the duct with. It looks like one of those steel instruments then dentist uses to pick at your teeth. The hardest part is keeping your eye wide open while he is digging around in your eye. Then he took the syringe and just places the needle inside the duct and squirts saline into the duct to try and flush away the obstruction. If you can feel the saline running down your nose and throat it was successful. It worked the first time in my left eye but took 3 times in the right. It was really uncomfortable but didn't hurt, which is good I suppose. At least my eyes feel normal now and not watering all over the place. He said if it was going to clog up again it would be at night so hopefully they will stay open. If they block up again he said the best thing to do is wait until after my treatment and try and irrigate them again. If worse comes to worse then I might have to have a surgical procedure to put a stent in my duct to keep it open. He said that can deform the muscle under they eye though and wouldn't recommend doing it unless absolutely necessary. Let's hope to avoid that.
Otherwise I am feeling pretty good. Actually a bit normal, which is nice. Jon and I had a great time this weekend celebrating our anniversary....I can't believe we have been married for 5 years. We went and did some Christmas shopping at Flatiron's and then went and saw A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. We have never done anything like that before so it was a lot of fun and a great play. Lots of singing, dancing, and it was funny at parts as well. We also stayed up in Denver overnight without the kids. It was great to be just the 2 of us. My parents and my sister Heater split up my kids and kept them for us. Did I mention it was GREAT!!
Tomorrow I will go in and do my Herceptin infusion and hopefully it will be straight forward and have no problems. My mom's birthday is tomorrow and she is going with me, fun birthday for her, but she insisted. Love you momma, Happy Birthday!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving! Well it was a week ago today that I had my first FEC treatment. I am still feeling the nausea side effects and taking the meds to help control it. Definitely isn't as bad as the first few days but it is still there. I am also getting frequent headaches which is a bummer.
I went in on Tuesday for a doctors appointment and Herceptin infusion and saw the nurse practitioner. Mainly just a follow up to how chemo went the previous week. In my opinion to talk about all the ailments I have from chemo that they really can't do anything about and just say, "Yeah, that can happen. Sorry." and then do nothing about. I was feeling sick when I came in so I decided to stay for hydration after Herceptin. They offered to give me something for the nausea through the IV. They gave me Zofran and Decadron that was supposed to help. After that drip was almost done I got this headache behind my eyes and my vision went all fuzzy. The nurse described it as "swimey". Then said "Oh that can happen if they infuse this too fast." Okay so I come in to get help with feeling better and due to the medicine that is suppose to help me feel better and I feel worse?? It seems like any "side effect" that CAN happen WILL happen to me. So needless to say, had the headache and fuzzy vision feeling well into the evening and wouldn't you know it the medicine never did its intended purpose of easing the nausea.
Thanksgiving was quiet compared to a normal "Mondy" Thanksgiving. We went to my parents and were joined by my brother Ethan and his wife Brandy, Jon's parents, and then of course my parents and brother Mason. Mom made a wonderful meal and we were just bums for most of the day. Jon went down to visit our friend Tommy this afternoon that had back surgery yesterday in Denver. He is doing well and hopefully he will be home soon! Jon and I are going to go see A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday for our activity for the Diana Price-Fish foundation and then stay overnight for our anniversary in Boulder. We are looking forward to the time alone since we haven't seen much of each other in the last few months. No 5am shopping going on in this house in the morning. Hope everyone doing some shopping tomorrow has fun and gets great deals!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Nov 19th

My first "FEC" treatment was this last Thursday. My fingernails are still continuing to bruise and my eyes are still constantly watering. (Both from the Taxotere) We went in at 8:30 and were done by about noon. I had read on some message boards that the Cytoxin medicine can give you a headache if it is infused too fast so I had asked the nurses about it. She said that if it gave me a headache this time they would slow it down next time. Of course I did get the headache...Lucky me. I didn't have to have Benedryl during this treatment so I did get to stay awake and read and relax for the treatment. That was nice to be able to visit and read.
I got to know another gal at chemo this week named Elisa. I had remembered her from being featured in the Poudre Valley Hospital newsletter back in August when I was first diagnosed. She was taking the same medicine I was prescribed to take (Herceptin) and her name is very similar to mine. I had seen her a few times in passing but never been able to visit with her before. She has a little boy named Will that is just over a year old. I am hoping to get to know her better through the next few weeks.
We left at about noon and I was doing fine except for the headache. I figured I better get in a good meal before the sick feeling set in. Oh course we headed to Lone Star and filled up. Mom got me home by about 1:30 or so and took Olivia for the afternoon. Jon's parents had the twins during the morning and I was able to rest some since they were sleeping when I got home. By about 4pm the nausea was in full effect. I felt like a pharmacy by the end of the afternoon. Tylonol for headaches, sudafed for the Cytoxin headache, Emmend for nausea that morning, compozine for nausea that afternoon, etc, etc. All that water too....I felt like I was going to float away. My mom had picked up the essential oils from the gal she met in Fort Collins and she offered to have us over Thursday to go through the Rain Drop massage and demonstrate so my mom could do it on me. I was feeling pretty rough about even getting in the car, but we made it over there and were able to go through the massage. It was pretty relaxing and I actually felt better afterwards. Mom said that she could see my back getting red from all the toxins that were being released. The lavender oil has seemed to do a pretty good job of keeping me relaxed at night to sleep. When I got home Jon could barley stand to stand by me though and I was ordered to immediately take a shower. Pretty potent smell.
Friday I woke up feeling terrible. I sat in bed for about an hour after I took my medicine. I got up and went in for my hydration appointment at 9:30. My friend Courtnee came over and watched the twins and did my laundry. I felt a little better after I did hydration, but still not great. Jon's aunt Clara and uncle Jon came up from Littleton and picked up Olivia for the weekend after she got out of preschool. They took her to do all sorts of fun things this weekend and she had a blast being spoiled and being the center of attention. She came home today with a bunch of chapsticks (her obsession), body lotion, Areil pajamas and an Ariel toy from the Disney store. All of which she wants to carry around with her and not put down. I just spent the rest of the day Friday laying around feeling yucky. Mom came over again on Friday to do another massage and then Jon rented some movies to watch on Friday night, but I only made it through about the first 10 min before falling asleep.
Saturday Jon was hard at work trying to get some more things done on the basement. Jon's parents were kind enough to take the twins for the day and I went to get my eyes checked and do hydration at the hospital. My oncology nurse told me not to get my eyes checked while doing chemo because the prescription would probably change, but with my eyes watering so much I can't stand to wear my contacts anymore with all the rubbing I am doing to my eyes. I haven't had new glasses for almost 4 years so I broke down and made an eye appointment on Saturday morning and got new glasses. My sister Heather came with me and then went to hydration with me at Poudre Valley Hospital since the oncology office isn't open on the weekend. It was fun to spend some time with her because we don't see each other that often. Again I felt some what better after hydration but nothing to write home about. When we got back to my parent's house my Dad decided that he was going to shave his head. He told me he would shave it when I started my FEC treatment becasue it is supposed to all fall out and stay out until I am done with this treatment. I will be a cue-ball in a week or so, so I am told. Heather buzzed dad's head and mustache and then Dad buzzed my hair again. I will put the pictures on my snapfish album. I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at my parent's house watching Mom and Heather make her famous chocolates. Yummy. Not too much help this year though. Jon and his buddy Vernon have been able to get about 3/4 of the basement framed. It is exciting to see it all coming together. Lazy Sunday night as well. Our friends Desi and Aislinn came over to hang out for awhile and we went to bed early in the middle of watching a movie.
This morning I felt a little better than yesterday but still not great. Mostly bummed around all morning waiting for yet another hydration appointment at the hospital. Dad took me this morning. I didn't really feel any better or worse after doing it today though so next time I will probably only go in for 2 hydration days. I haven't really felt like I am on the verge of being sick since Friday, I just feel overall yucky and have an upset tummy. I did the ginger oil this evening on my feet and it did seem to help a little. I am off to take a shower and go to bed. Nothing else to exciting to report....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Weds Nov 15th

Mom and I went in to do chemo education for the 2nd round of treatment yesterday morning. I will be starting my first "FEC" treatment tomorrow, followed by hydration days on Friday and Saturday. They will start me on new anti nausea medication called Emend. With these 3 new meds one has a risk of significantly lowering the white blood count and one has a risk of lowering the red blood count. They have shots that I will be given if either of these things happen and they don't sound fun so I am hoping to avoid that. Mostly this round will just make me much sicker for longer. With the first round I would have a bad day or two and with this one is sounds like I will have a horrible day or two and then be sick for a week. They want me to try and drink a gallon of water a day the day prior to treatment, the day of treatment, and the day after. Drink, drink, drink! I will still go in every week on Wednesday to do my herceptin infusions but then only do the FEC treatment every 3 weeks. The doctor is still not sure about my options for surgery. She wants to visit with the surgeon before they make any recommendations. This is still a big issue weighing on my mind with what the right decision is for me. I am still considering all my options and weighing the pros and cons for each. One step at a time I suppose.
I also had another EKG yesterday to make sure that the herceptin isn't doing any damage to my cardiac muscle. It looks like everything is going fine in that department. I have been using the lavender oil to try and help me relax at night and sleep instead of my ambien. It seems to work fairly well unless I really can't turn my mind off. Well, off to drink some more water!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Nov 10th

I had an appointment this morning to have my ultrasound and mamogram done again at 9:30. They were really busy this morning so there was about 2 hours of waiting and about 15 min of actual tests done. Lucky Jon got to wait in the waiting room the whole time. He always says "This is the only business that can get away with making people wait as long as they do. Doctors and the DMV." More good news though. They can see where they left the clip in the tumor but cannot see a tumor there any longer. The clip was a tiny piece of metal that they left in my tissue when doing the biopsy. They can no longer see margins according to the radiologist. I am not sure where this leaves me as far as surgery so I will have to see what they say next time I see the doctor. My hand rash if feeling a little better. Still very itchy and peeling but not as painful. My fingernails are still hurting a significant amount but hopefully that will improve soon.
Jon and I also had to take the twins in to get their second booster for the flu shot today. Jon also had to get his flu shot. Olivia had hers yesterday and I told her she didn't have to get shots again until kindergarten and she has been reminding me all day that she doesn't want to go to kindergarten.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thurs Nov 9th

It's that day again.....Buddy Check 9 day. Remember to do your buddy check ladies and for more information click the link on the side bar of the blog.
Well good new today finally. I saw Dr. Medgyesy today before chemo. She is still not able to see feel the tumor during an exam. She said that given the light of the situation with the chemo doing what it was meant to do, shrink the tumor, and that currently is doing more harm then help, I am officially done doing the Taxotere. Last week was my last Taxotere treatment. Today I only had to do Herceptin. This is the drug that I will have to continue to have infused once a week for a year. But good news with this one is that there are no side effects, so today I had the best Thursday I have had in months. Dr. Medgyesy said that with the combination of my fingernails still being so sore I can barely use my hands without being in pain, the rash still peeling away the skin on my hands, and the horrible taste I continually have in my mouth that it isn't any benefit to keep forging ahead. She said that if for some reason the tumor hadn't responded as well as it did they might consider continuing but since it had done its job, we are good to go. Or not go I guess :-)
At this point we are moving our plan ahead by 3 weeks. I am scheduled to go in and have an ultrasound and Mammogram tomorrow morning, Chemo education on Tuesday morning, an Echocardiogram Tuesday afternoon, and start my FEC treatment on Thursday. The ultrasound and mammogram will check our progress, and echocardiogram will make sure that the taxotere hasn't had any bad effects on my heart. Chemo education is to go over all the "new" set of problems this new treatment will bring about.
The FEC treatment is a combination of the drugs 5FU, Epirubicin, and Cytoxin. I will have to continue the herceptin on a weekly basis but the FEC treatment will on be given every 3 weeks for 3 months. So far I have heard that it makes you very nauseaus so they pre medicate you with those anti nausea drugs. Also on this treatment I have to go in for "hydration" days the day after infusion and then also the 3rd day. This is to run hydration through my system and also to keep on eye on my CBC (complete blood count). If my counts go too low then I might have to do shots of neulasta, which we are hoping not to do. I have heard from many people that they cause SEVERE bone pain. The purpose of the shot is to produce more white blood cells. So that means on the 3rd week I go in for 3 days in a row. Since I don't really want to go to the hospital on the "hydration" days I decided to move my chemo day to Wednesday so I can go to my regular doc's office to do all my treatments. So far the only other thing about this new treatment that I have heard is to expect to be sick for about a week and feel fine for 2 weeks. No other word on surgery at this point.
My mom has also been doing so research about using essential oils to treat some symptoms like nausea, fatigue, etc. She has connected with a lady in Fort Collins that had a son with leukemia and tried the oils for various things. We are willing to try anything that might make the journey easier.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Nov 6th

Hi all. I made it out to the doctor today. I saw the Nurse Practitioner Amy Wing. She put me on a daily prescription of Prednisone to see if that "lightens" it up some. It won't go away until I am done with the Taxotere, but it shouldn't be this bad. I took that this afternoon and so far there isn't too much of a change. I tried using some Benedryl cream this afternoon which did provide a little relief of the burning on a temporary 30 min basis. But hey, I will take what I can get. Also the "metallic mouth" is in full effect. I constantly have this awful metal taste in my mouth now along with all my food tasting funny. I have been trying to chew gum or be drinking something but the second I don't have anything in my mouth the yucky taste is very apparent. Hopefully this taste thing will also go away with the Taxotere.
My friend Sheri came over today to help me out with the kids today and mom was over for the evening. It looks like some ladies from church are going to come help me out during the next 2 mornings with Jon's parents any my mom helping me in the evening and afternoon. Thanks for the help everyone. Hopefully by tomorrow evening it will let up some.
I just discovered this new song on the blog by KT Tunstall, suddenly I see. Isn't it a feel good song? I think so...That's why I chose it at least. Just wanted to give everyone an update on stuff from my horrible day yesterday. Love you all!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sun Nov 5th

Okay, I'm just going to have to say this has been the worst 24 hours since I shaved my head. I think I have cried about a thousand times today. Ever since posting yesterday my hands have gotten a million times worse. I look like I have a flesh eating virus all over my poor hands. The dark red rash is now between all my fingers and has spread down onto my wrist and on the sides of my palms. Every time I move my fingers and hands I am in agony. I feel like my skin is too small for my hands and that every time I move my hands it is just pulling the skin tighter and tighter. I can't touch anything, put my hands under water, pick up my kids, rub my hands against anything........I tried to sleep last night with my hands out of the covers so they didn't rub on the sheets but then froze my arms off. I can't win. And the darn thing itches to boot. As if I haven't had enough itching during my pregnancies to last a life time and then some. (for those of you who didn't know I had some unheard of liver condition with my pregnancies call Cholestasis of pregnancy that made me unbelievably itchy. I think it is a horrible way of torture!!) I will definitely be on the phone with the doc in the morning to see if this can at all be settled down. I can't even describe how frustrated I am. I can't do ANYTHING with my hands. I guess I might need to learn how to do things with my toes??
I made it through about 45 min of church (crying most of the time) before going home with mom. Olivia was sitting with her friend Isabella on the floor on our row at church trying to explain why her mom was crying. "She is just sad because her hair keeps falling out and now her hands really hurt, but we can keep coloring together." AHH!! So matter of fact, that one.
Pretty much the rest of the day I proved to be pretty worthless. Jon left for Laramie this evening so we went over to my mom's for dinner and to hang out. My brother Ethan and his wife Brandy were over for dinner and helped get the kids bathed and ready for bed and my other brother Mason kept them entertained. I only had to manage getting them back out of the car at home and getting them into bed. Thank goodness. I am also off to take my Ambien and try and sleep off all my frustrations of today. Hopefully doctor Medgyesy will have some sort of a fix for me in the morning.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sat Nov 4th

Another treatment down, 3 more to go on Taxotere and then I will start my new medications. I am still having the same side effects as last week, only worse. The rash has spread to more of my hands and is now starting to blister in the really red spots. It both itches and hurts and there isn't anything that I can topically put on it to make it go away. They just say whatever helps relieve the itching/hurting like hydrocortisone or lotion I could try. Since it is systemic there isn't anything that will help a whole lot. The doctor did give me a steroid to try and take both the day before and after treatment to see if that would help with the pain in my fingernails. They are also starting to get the dark lines in some of them. Luckily they aren't black yet, only light purple I would say. I guess that is a little better today but not much. It still hurts to grab things, rub things, etc. I try to keep the kids in clothes that don't have buttons and complicated things like that. I guess it is a good thing that these things didn't start happening until the last few weeks and hasn't been going on all along. My hair has been steadily growing but it really sparse in the front and thin. They expect that it will fall out again with my new treatments after Thanksgiving. The nurse said that if I try and keep it buzzed a little bit longer it shouldn't be as itchy. The itching head has let up some, it really doesn't bother me to much unless I have a hat or something on my head for a long period of time. Thursday after treatment we came home and mom made a really good steak and potato dinner (one of my favorites) and I was welcomed with yet another great side effect which I am going to call the "cardboard effect". I think your taste buds start to shut down or something because more and more everything starts to taste bland. I can't eat anything more spicy than medium salsa without my mouth being on fire either. What a bummer this is!! So my biggest complaint for the week would have to be my red and blistering rash....
A few weeks ago my work had put together a fundraiser for me during the last weeks of breast cancer awareness month. It will be nice to have that money to put away towards all my medical expenses for the next year or so. Thank you to everyone that contributed to that and I hope that you know how much I love and miss everyone at the US Reports family!! You guys are the best.
This week my friend Shari came over to hang out on Monday and help out with the kids and house. Jon was home for a bit in the afternoon to do a "parts run" from Laramie, so we went out to get a pedicure in the afternoon. My friend Sarah had gotten me a gift certificate awhile back to go get one at a new place in Loveland. It was awesome. Olivia got to dress up for Halloween on Monday at preschool and was excited to go and visit the "grandmas and grandpas" at Sierra Vista nursing home. For Halloween I took the kids to my friend Jenn's work at Skyline medical complex in Loveland and they got to trick or treat to the medical offices there. It was really nice because it was inside and we were able to stay warm. Then Jenn and I took the kids to McDonald's for dinner and to play. I was so tired from all that walking around it was nice to get home and not have to worry about making and picking up dinner. My friend Alyssa's husband Heath came over and took Olivia trick or treating with their girls Darrian and Braxton so I didn't have to take the twins out. On Wednesday while Olivia was at preschool my friend Aislynn and I went out to do some shopping at Old Navy. Somebody had anonymously sent me a gift card to do some "self indulgence" (thanks!!) I got a few warm pretty sweaters for the winter. I also picked up my wig on Wednesday afternoon. It is a medium brown color and to my shoulders. I will take some pictures of it this week sometime and post them, I haven't gotten to it yet. It is funny to feel long hair on my head again, but it will be nice to wear to feel "normal" again every once in awhile. Thursday was treatment day and nothing to out of the ordinary. One poke, Judy is back in the saddle :-) , and everything by the book. In and out of there and then mom and I went to lunch at Red Robin. Yum, gotta love Red Robin. I guess anytime I am not having to do the preparation and clean up that is a good thing. :-) My wonderful In-laws stayed with me for the afternoon to tend the twins while I laid in bed totally worthless for pretty much the rest of the day. My parents came over to do dinner and the kids that evening. What would I do without everyone's help?? Thank goodness they are all so close and able to help me out with the kids, and me too! Jon and I were able to go out to eat at the Egg and I with the twins the other day. We went to go pay our bill and someone at the restaurant paid our bill and gave the waitress a note to give to me that said "A good deed had been done today in loving memory of my mother. Good luck to you ~ a friend" Of course I was in tears the rest of the time there and the whole way home. It is unreal to think about all the many women that this disease has impacted. I am so thankful that we live in an age where it isn't something that has to be hidden and ashamed of and that I am able to draw off family, friends, Heavenly Father and support groups for all I need.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Oct 29th

This week I have started to deal with some of the "fun" side effects of my chemo drug taxotere. I woke up on Thursday and felt like all my fingernails were bruised, like I slammed each of them in a door but didn't have the bruises to prove it. Very strange. My nurse told me that this was one of the side effects of the medication and that my fingernails can turn black/blue and even fall off. Good times..... Let's hope that part doesn't actually happen. Having them constantly hurt is bad enough. It is hard to grab things, pick things up and even zip up my pants. So that I thought that was pretty crappy until I woke up yesterday morning with this rash between my fingers. It is dark red and looks like I took a skinny curling iron and burned myself between all my fingers where my fingers meet my hands. It feels like that too, which sucks because there aren't many things that you can put on burns to relieve that heat, burning pain. The side effects sheet from the doctor says that usually comes a few days after chemo and then goes away within a few days. Lucky me that my treatments are once a week so that probably won't ever go away. I would much rather feel nauseous all the time then have constant pain on my fingernails and hands. Too bad I don't get to pick.
I had some people over to help me out last week with kids and the house since Jon has been out of town. It was so nice of people to come help me cook, clean and look after my little munchkins. I just told Jon today that one full day of being at home isn't enough. He has been getting home on Friday afternoon and leaving again for work late Sunday afternoon. At least he has a pretty good job and we have those awesome medical benefits.
Thursday chemo went pretty standard. I had a late appointment so my mom and I were able to go see my girlfriend Abbey's baby up at Poudre Valley Hospital since the cancer center is right across the street. I hadn't been able to get down to see him with not having Jon around this last week. He is doing pretty well and is expected to come home tomorrow. Good news for mom and baby! It is amazing how you forget how tiny those babies are. Oh Thursday was the day it snowed in the morning too! I love the snow so that was a nice addition to the week. Boy it came and went fast though. I was able to see both Lanie and Karen at chemo this week so that was fun. I think they both do their treatments only every other week so I don't always see them. I also saw another gal there that I haven't gotten to know over the past 2 months named Claude. She is French and is so sweet. She also had breast cancer and is doing some kind of clinical trial so is still at the doctors office on a regular basis. She had brought me all sorts of scarves and hats. I wore one this weekend that she gave me that is really pretty and have a picture of it on my pictures link. Still the same story with the remainder of the day on Thursday. Really tired and not a lot of energy. Jon's parents were able to stay with me and kids until dinner and then my mom came over to babysit :-) from dinner until bedtime.
Friday my friend Courtnee came over to help out with things around the house and also another girlfriend Heather from high school came over with her daughter Jaycee to visit for a bit in the morning. That was fun because I haven't seen Heather in such a long time. Jon was home on Friday afternoon and we all went to a "trunk-or-treat" at my church. The kids all dressed up in their Halloween costumes and then they go trick or treating in the parking lot of the church to everyone's cars. It was pretty fun. The twins were tinkerbell and peter pan and Olivia was a fairy with wings and a wand (that was the important part she kept reminding me that she wanted wings and a wand).
I had signed up to be a part of a foundation in Denver for cancer patients called Diana Price-Fish. They help cancer patients "enjoy life" by funding them to do one fun activity a month of their choice. I just got off the waiting list this month so was able to take advantage of that this weekend. They paid for Jon and I to go out to eat at the Melting Pot in Fort Collins. Jon and I had gone to the one in Louisville for his birthday a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I thought that would be fun. We went with some of our good friends Tommy and Sherri Chapman and had such a good time just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. It is such a laid back dinner and took us about 3 hours so you are not at all rushed. It was fun.
Today hasn't been too bad. I felt well enough to go to a little bit of church this morning so that was nice and have just been relaxing this afternoon. My mom is making us dinner tonight so I don't have to worry about that since Jon is on his way out the door again this afternoon. I will post our Halloween pictures of the kids on the link as well.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Oct 22nd

I am glad today is almost over. It started early, my friend Abbey had her baby boy Christian Powell last night at McKee here in town and they had to take the baby up to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins because he wasn't breathing well enough. I got up and went to hang out with Abbey this morning at 7 and have had a headache since the moment I woke up. Good news is that baby and mom are both looking much better this evening. I have been taking my anti nausea meds all day and they seem to be keeping things mostly under control, which is good. They just make me tired, but I guess I would rather be tired than vomiting. I was feeling well enough to go to church though so that was nice. There was a really beautiful musical number performed, Be Still my soul. I just love hearing music at church and singing the hymns. It is great soul-food. It is a bummer to not be able to sit all the way through my church meetings but it is nice to be able to go to the first part every once in awhile.
My neighbor Cindy also brought be some pretty ribbon to hang up all the hand stamped cards I have been getting, but by the time I hung up over 30 cards you could barely see the ribbon. They are hung over my bathroom mirror.

I know they will always brighten my day when I get up and look at the sea of pink well wishes above my mirror every morning!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Oct 20

Another week over and done with. I just finished my 7th treatment. I have a total of 16 treatments because the last 3 months I only go every 3 weeks. So next week will be my 1/2 way point as far as the # of treatments. Everything went well yesterday. I saw the nurse practitioner Lisa and she could still feel a denser area but couldn't define any margins of the tumor still.

I also received my DNA test results already yesterday. I have tested negative for both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. This is good news, but leaves me wondering what is the cause for the cancer. Why did I develop this if I don't have the gene? The answer? Nobody knows....Man that is so frustrating! Where I had a plan of action if I tested positive for the gene, the plan is now unclear as far as what surgery I will end up having. My oncologist and surgeon probably won't make those recommendations until I am completely finished with chemotherapy. Even if they say I only need to have a lumpectomy, do I have a mastectomy in hopes of not getting again anyway? They say that I fall back into the general population as far as chances of getting it again 6 to 11%, but hey if I had it once and had bad luck....... I guess it is just hard because the answers aren't black and white. But, nonetheless this is good news for me, my sisters, my mother, and my daughters.

Moving right along...Chemo went well on Thursday. One poke and my port was accessed on the first time. Judy has her touch back! Did I mention I love my oncology nurse. She is so sweet. I can say that my chemo days are getting harder and harder on this new taxotere. I wasn't so much tired where I had to take a nap I just had no energy to do anything. I sat on the couch the whole afternoon and my wonderful neighbor Ann offered to come down and play with the kids. I couldn't even lift my arm up without thinking, Man this stupid arm weighs a ton. I was completely worthless. It feels so bizarre to not have any energy to do anything. I will just know that I always need a babysitter all day on Thursday for me and the kids.

Jon is back for the weekend from Laramie. Yeah! My hero! I don't know how single moms do it! The week has gone by pretty quickly. I ordered a wig awhile ago that came in on Monday but the color was more gray than blonde so we are sending it back. My neighbor Cindy belongs to an online stamping group called spilt coast stampers. She had posted something about me on her site and I have received all sorts of cute hand stamped cards in the mail. They are so pretty. It has been nice to have my mailbox filled with pink cards and well wishes. Cindy is going to make me some garland or something to hang on my wall to display them. Thanks to all those ladies that sent me a card. I love them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mon Oct 16th

I decided to go ahead and shave my head on Saturday. One of our friends Tim, said that he would shave his head with me when I decided to do it so we went over there on Saturday morning to do it. Of course I took some pictures and there are posted on the snapfish link on the side of the page. It is so weird to feel a razor on your head. I still keep feeling my head and thinking, it just isn't natural to feel the top of your head and touch skin instead of hair. It still didn't solve the itching problem though, I guess my scalp is just really sensitive.
Jon shaved his head on Friday and my girlfriend Alyssa's husband Heath shaved his head on Saturday afternoon. We should start a skin-head gang.
As pattern would have it I felt yucky again yesterday. I have had a headache for the last 2 days and was sick to my stomach for most the day yesterday. I just feel low on energy all the time. I try to still get out and do stuff to feel normal, even though I don't feel good. It helps to keep busy with other things to take my mind off not feeling well. I almost feel pregnant again. I have to eat something every few hours and you just never know how you are going to be feeling from one min to the next.
Jon is working nights again this week up in Laramie and I think he will plan on staying up there for most of the week. My twins club meeting is tonight with a speaker from the Susan G. Kolman foundation. Like I said before if anyone is interested in coming it is open to everyone. Just give me a call or email me and I can give you more information if you are interested.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thurs Oct 12

I took some pictures today with my wonderful chemo nurse Judy and some other ladies that I have met at chemo. They are uploaded onto my snapfish album that has a link on the side bar of the blog. The ladies are both younger and in their 30s so easier for me to relate to and all of us are bald. :-) Their names are Karen and Lanie. Lanie is going through breast cancer for her 2nd time and found out that she is BRCA positive. She is such an upbeat and positive person. I have only known her a few weeks, but what an example she is to me already. They are both an awesome resource to me with all sorts of answers to my questions about surgery, side effects, and what to expect.
I went to chemo today at 8:30am this morning and it started out a little rough. I put Lidacain cream over my port before every treatment so I don't feel the poke of the needle when the access my port. My nurse Judy, who I love, had trouble this morning accessing it. She has always accessed it on the first try at all my other chemo sessions. It was moving around or something but being difficult. Mind you I couldn't feel most of it but she stuck me about 6 times before she decided to have someone else try it. One of the other nurses Ann come over and had me sit a different way and got it on the first time. When I looked down my skin over my port looked like a pin cushion, literally. I think Judy felt worse about it then me, poor girl. I suppose everyone is entitled to a bad day everyone once in awhile. (As long as your patient is numb, that is) Everything else seemed to go by the book, which is fine with me. We were actually home before 1, which was a nice change. Thursdays I suppose are going to turn out to be hard days as well. This one was much like last week. I got home and was just so tired I could barely put one leg in front of the other. When I laid down I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, which is just not me. I always sit in bed for at least 30 min before I can fall asleep. When I left chemo my port was hurting and has been really hurting for the rest of the day. I took a long nap this afternoon and still woke up with zero energy and the regular heartburn. I have been pretty worthless for the whole day. Luckily Jon's parents took Olivia on a trip to the mall while I slept it off with the twins and then my mom came back to make dinner and help with the kids this evening. My head is still VERY itchy and is always red from scratching it all the time. I think I am going to take a bic to it this weekend since it is still falling out anyway. Well off to bed!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mon Oct 9th

Hey Ladies! It is buddy check 9 day. Be sure to do your monthly self exam today or tomorrow. I heard the race for the cure here in Denver set the record for the 3 year in a row for the largest race in the country raising more than 3 million dollars. I did the sleep in for the cure since I wasn't allowed to be out in the crowds but I heard it was an awesome experience. I put a link on the side bar to the 9 news story, it was a good one. You can just click on the picture on the story that looks like a video camera to see the actual story on the news if you have high speed internet. I would love to hear about it from anyone that participated. Email me!!
My twins club this month is having a speaker come from Susan G. Kolman for our general meeting. It will be held on Monday October 16th at 7pm at Mountain Veiw Presbyterian Church. The church is about 2 blocks south of 29th street on Garfield in Loveland. If anyone is interested in coming they are opening the meeting up to the community and feel free to contact me.

It's funny how many people stop and stare and point at you when your bald. I am starting to get used to it and point back or wave. My usual smarty pants attitude I suppose. I have mostly just been out without hats or scarves on because my head is still really itchy and it is just uncomfortable to have something else on it. I guess it just is what it is. I think it is just hard because it is the realization that I am sick, that there is something wrong with me, and that I still have a long road ahead of me. And I think it is the same for my friends and family too, that see me like this. No matter how good of an attitude I have it is still there and it is a crappy reminder every day.
Sunday was still my hard day again. The nausea wasn't too bad yesterday but I had really bad heartburn which isn't any better. Just a sharp pain in my chest all afternoon. Otherwise just still pretty low on energy. The oncologist recommended all of us getting the flu shots done so I will be trying to take me and kids in to get those this week sometime. Jon is back to working nights and is working in Laramie to boot so the company got him a hotel room up there for the week. With the weather and all I feel much better about him staying up there and not driving 287 in the wee hours of the morning. Hopefully my kids will be on their best behavior for me for the week, otherwise we are in for a long week.
Don't forget that it is buddy check 9 day!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thurs Oct 5th

Finally a good day of chemo! I went in a saw Dr. Medgyesy this morning before chemo. I still have noticed that the tumor is shrinking and becoming less defined. She said the same thing after my examination today. She even tried to measure it with the measuring tape and said that the margins are so hard to find, she isn't even able to measure it with the tape measure any longer. Awesome news! I did my chemo after the appointment and was again heavily premedicated with the Benedryl and slept alot of the time there. I had no reactions to medications today so everything went smoothly and we were only there until about 1pm, which was a nice switch from all day. Mom and I went out to eat at Lone Star in Fort Collins afterwards and I saw some people I used to work with there, Lauren and Marcus. It was nice to be able to visit with friends I haven't seen for awhile. Lauren and a large group of people that I worked with at Lone Star are going to be running the race for the cure for me on Sunday. There are also some moms from my twins club that are running the race. Everyone is so supportive and I couldn't be more grateful for my family and friends during this time. The lord has truly blessed me with the best of the best for a support group.
The one bad thing about the rest of the day is that I have just felt so worn out. I got home and napped for a few hours and the whole rest of the night I haven't even had the energy to do anything. I feel like a zombie. We had our home teachers over this evening also. It was nice to be able to hear a spiritual message since I haven't been able to go to church for about a month. Our home teachers are Steve West and Karl Olander. For those of you who don't know Karl, he is deaf. Olivia just loves him. She knows how to sign his name and has been pretending to sign with Steve when they were here tonight. She always likes to find him at church and say hi to him. Karl gave me this quote that he found today that I thought was neat and I would share:

Good Morning, this is heavenly father. I will be handling all your problems today, so have a good day.

And you guys all do the same!!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sat Sept 30th

On Wednesday evening my hair started to fall out a little bit. I was hoping that it would just be a little here and there but Thursday morning in the shower it just got worse. Every time I ran my fingers through my hair I would pull out stands of hair.
Thursday was an early morning. I went to chemo with my mom at 8am and went through my genetics counseling. We had to do a pedigree chart for family history of cancer and go through all the statistics of what it means if I do have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. I was going through my herceptin (one of my chemo drugs) while doing the genetics counseling so I wouldn't have to be there all day again. Then after my gene counseling I started in with the rest of the chemo. They premedicated me pretty heavy with the benedryl since I had the allergic reactions last week and also gave me the steroid shot before hand hoping that if I had another reaction it would take care of that. After about 10 min into doing the Taxol I, of course, had the same reaction where I couldn't breathe. It wasn't quite as bad as last week's reaction but still pretty scary. The only difference was I knew what was happening. Doctor Medgyesy decided to go ahead and change me onto a different drug that is in the same family called Taxotere. She explained that the allergy is usually caused by the way the drug is dissolved and not the actual drug itself. (whatever that means) So this new drug is dissolved differently and normally people that don't tolerate the Taxol well will do okay on this other one Taxotere. The thing about this other one is that it can have worse side effects. She said I might have more nausea, achey, retain water, all sorts of other "extras". Great....... You do what you gotta do I guess. Good news is I did get through that drug okay without any reactions and I can pick up where I left off with the other one so I don't have to start my 12 weeks over. This week will still count as week 4. The did my blood draw for the gene testing and we should know in 4 to 6 weeks.
I also went to a program at the cancer center on Thursday evening called look good, feel better. It was like a glorified Mary Kay party. We all got a goodie bag full of all sorts of nice make up and skin products from all the places I could never afford to buy from so that was cool, and they showed us how to tie scarves and things like that. It was nice.
I still felt pretty yucky for the rest of the day Thursday but I wasn't sure if it was from the reaction or just the new medicine. After my class I got home and my mom, dad, and brother Mason were at my house making dinner (oh course with all my kids and hubby as well). Olivia climbed up on my lap on the couch to give me a hug and get the usual run down of mommy's day without her. I was itching my head and pulled out a chunk of hair and just lost it. Of course trying to explain to her why I was sad in terms a 4 year old would understand. Man I hate it when I do that in front of my kids. When we sat down to dinner Olivia volunteered to say the prayer and of course didn't forget me. She said "Bless mommy not to be sad and that her hair will stop falling out." ...... Out of the mouths of babes. I love my kids!!
I thought I would feel better on Thursday if I got in the shower, which it was nice but back to the hair falling out. That just made me feel sicker. I got out of the shower and by the time I was done drying my hair my sink looked like this:

After thinking about my hair slowing falling out and finding it on my pillow the whole night instead of sleeping I got up on Friday and decided I would take control of the situation. (my bizarre way of convincing myself I actually have any control over any of this I guess) I invited some of my girlfriends over and we shaved it off. I knew you would all want to see the photo docu-drama, so I uploaded them to my snapfish link on the side of the page. Definitely one of the harder things I have ever experienced. Why is it that we as women are so attached to our hair? After all it is a giant pain in the butt as I now realize I can get ready in 10 min flat. (shower and all) So it does have it's good points. At least I know that it will grow back, right? I must say as a bald lady you do get a lot of very funny looks. I can't even look in the mirror without doing a double take and saying "Whoa! Who's that funny looking bald chick? Oh wait, that's how I look now a days." Olivia reminded me a few times yesterday how silly I was and that I looked like a boy....Great. :-) Just what I always wanted. I have tried to wear some scarves and hats but because my hair is all still falling out and I will eventually be completely bald my head really itches and so they are hard to keep on. Jon and I went out to a church social on Friday night for a bit and it was nice to be out of the house. Everyone that is in public with me the next few days will just have to be seen with the bald girl :-) Trying to stay positive this week has proven to be rather difficult, but we are still hanging in there!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Sept 25th

Today I broke down and took my nausea medicine for the first time. It actually worked okay, but does make me sleepy. I haven't really felt all that well since Thursday so that has been kinda crappy.
On Saturday we were sponsored to attend a benefit for the American Cancer Society called the Cattle Barron's Ball. It was in Windsor at Water Valley. They served a really nice dinner and did dancing and a live auction. They raised 30K for cancer research from their auction. I have never been to an auction so it was a pretty cool thing to see. They had Chris LeDoux's band there playing, he died last year from cancer. Jon and I love to country dance and haven't been in a while so we had a lot of fun!
Yesterday some gals from work came over and cleaned my house for me. That was so nice! I hope it wasn't too horrible for them. We also received some help yesterday with our medical expenses. We feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful support group of family and friends!! I will never be able to thank everyone enough for all the love, support, and prayers everyone has offered to us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thurs Sept 21st

Today has definitely been a day of ups and downs. I saw the nurse Lisa today for my appointment. The GOOD NEWS is that my tumor has shrunk considerably already! Yeah! It started at 4cm by 3cm and has decreased to 2cm by 2.5cm. Everyone's prayers and thoughts must be working. THANKS!! I will be doing my genetics counseling next week at Chemotherapy and will do my blood draw next week to send off to the genetics lab. I will have an answer in 4 to 6 weeks if I am BRCA1 or 2 positive. This will have a huge weight on my decisions with surgery. If I am positive they would recommend having a double mastectomy. If I am negative I might only have to have a single mastectomy or a lumpectomy if it keeps shrinking the way it is going. The bad news is that since my prescribed treatment had chemo first, then surgery, then radiation I can't do reconstruction at the time of my surgery. Radiation cannot be done over the reconstruction. This would mean that I would be looking at multiple painful surgeries with long recovery periods in between. YUCK. I still won't know for sure if my lymph nodes have been affected until after surgery. But yeah again for the tumor shrinking!
I did chemo after my dr. Appointment today. Everything was going fine until I started my Taxol, which is the actual chemo drug. Since it was my 3rd time getting this they put it on regular flow and it usually takes about an hour. I was laying down in the recliner for about 10 min and started to feel funny. All at once I felt hot in my abdomen and and it moved quickly up my abdomen into my chest and to my throat. By the time I sat up and looked at my mom on the one side of me and said "Something isn't right," and turned my head to the other side to tell the nurse my chest and throat got very tight and couldn't breathe. The 3 nurses all rushed over shut the IV line and shot me up with a steroid and a bunch of benedryl. It worked quickly but there was about 1o or so seconds there where I couldn't catch my breath. It was VERY SCARY! I thought I was going to pass out. They put some saline through me and waited about a half hour before starting on it again. They start it back up but at about 1/2 the speed. I waited about 20 min and then the hot feeling came over me again. I didn't have the breathing problem that time, but they did the same things again. I had to stop and wait another 1/2 hour and then start the taxol again at about 1/2 that speed. Luckily the 3rd time was a charm and worked okay but we ended up being at chemo from 10:00am to 4:30pm. Long day! I feel horrible tonight too. My chest still hurts and my lower back hurts. I am a total medicine head from all the benedryl I am on.
On a fun note, my girlfriends Alyssa and Aislinn came and kidnapped me and took me to get a manicure and pedicure. It was so much fun and so relaxing. I have never had a pedicure and had no idea on what I was missing out on! Jon is in big trouble now, he'll have to watch the kids once a month so I can go do that.
Still no bald head yet, just a few strands here and there. My white blood cell count was 4.8 today so back in the "normal" range. So I guess that is more good news. I am trying to have a good attitude about stuff but feel so bummed and drained this evening.....Good thing tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Sept 18th

It has been a real uneventful weekend. Mostly just relaxing at home. Today and Sunday I have felt a little under the weather but nothing to awful. Just tired again and a little out of sorts. I went to try on wigs on Friday afternoon. Nothing too exciting to report that way. They look a little funny with the hair I have right now underneath it, but they will probably look better when there isn't any hair under there keeping it off my head. I still haven't lost any hair yet.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thurs Sept 14th

Okay so another Chemo treatment over and done with!! 2 down 14 to go, 2 weeks down and 22 weeks to go..... I took some pictures this morning with my mom at the cancer center. They give me these nice recliners to sit in and you can see the pink breast cancer blanket that Cyndi Thalman made for me. They are posted on my snapfish page with the link on the side of the page that says Eliza's pictures under Chemo 9/14/06. I had to take some pictures of things even if it isn't a time I want to remember now, I am sure it will be nice to look back on some photos of it all.
We went in at 8:30 and were done by 11:45. Jon's parents were nice enough to watch our rugrats today. I did find out that they will give me the benadryl and steroids everytime to prepare my body for the treatment. Which means I will be sleeping through, at least, the first part of things. I also found that accessing the port isn't near as painful as I thought it would be. I use a prescription cream that numbs the skin prior to going in and it didn't hurt at all. It didn't really even hurt to take it out. My wonderful oncology nurse Judy is so good at explaining everything that is going on is about the sweetest person ever. (Along with everyone that works there, which makes it so much easier) Today my white blood cell count, or WBC, was 2.8 and normal range is between 4.1 and 10.9 so this week I will have to stay out of the crowds. Judy said that I will hit nadir (which is the lowest point my counts will drop) within the first 2 weeks. They can give me shots if the count gets too low. I am trying to get the DNA test approved through my insurance so I can find out if I have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene in my DNA. The test is expensive though, so I have to make sure insurance will pay for it. This will be good to know for my sisters and my daughters. Not to much else exciting with the chemo today, just sitting in a chair getting an IV drip. It is funny that they give you the stuff in the main line and that it doesn't effect your body for a few days.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I took a nap this afternoon and felt great when I woke up. I was able to spend some time with the kids taking a walk and going to the park so that was nice. Jon is working hard on getting some of our basement outer walls framed in his spare time and it is nice to see that project getting started. It has been a good way for him to take his mind off things. Until next time my friends.......

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tues Sept 12th

Okay I decided I am going to do my part to remind all the ladies about buddy check 9 day....A little corny but I am all for it given my present situation. So this is done by 9 news to remind all of us to do our monthly self breast exams on the 9th of the month. A little late this month but better late than never. I love all of you and wouldn't wish this on anyone, but early detection is the key. So next time your in the shower, DO IT!! If anyone is interested the 9 news website is a great resource for breast cancer information. For a quick link to that site click here. Also The Race for the Cure is here in Denver on October 8th. For more information on that click here. I will keep these links on the side bar of my blog for future reference.

So the last 2 days have been a little rough. I have been super tired and luckily I have great friends that will take my kids for the afternoon when I need help. Thanks Abbey! Yesterday I felt pretty sick, but today only tired. Tired I can deal with, sick doesn't really fit in my schedule. I guess I better get used to conforming to someone else's schedule. Jon is back in the swing of working with Source and we are so grateful that has worked out in our favor to keep our insurance and hopefully a consistent work schedule. He is also working on getting a room framed out in our basement. We got a great deal on lumber through Jon's friend, Vernon, and we will just have to take it one step at a time. It will be nice to have the extra room if family is able to come and help out when times get rough down the road for me. This week I have Chemo on Thursday morning. My port site is still bruised and pretty sore. I have a hard time at night getting comfortable. The incision is healing but my skin still pulls on it when I move my neck in certain directions. It is bizarre to feel it under my skin and my kids always want to see what mommies owie looks like today or if it is gone. No hair falling out yet....Which is good. I sucks anticipating and dreading the inevitable. I read this quote today and thought I would share:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.
~Martin Luther King

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday Sept 9th

Yesterday morning I decided to go and get my haircut. I thought it might be less traumatic if it wasn't so long when it fell out. My friends Abbey, Alyssa, and Aislynn all went with me to get it cut. Nothing like moral support from your friends!! I posted a link on the right side of the page that says Eliza's Pictures. Click on this link and it will take you to the snapfish home page. It is a free service but you do have to create a log in to look at the photos. We took some before and after pictures of the haircut. I also put pictures from our summer vacation to Glendo on there if your interested.

At noon I had to do an echocardiogram. Luckily this was just an ultrasound of my heart and no needles or pain. I did have to lay on my left side which hurt a bit because of my surgery on Wednesday. My incision from the surgery still hurts today. It is more comfortable now that the tap isn't in place and nothing is sticking out of my skin anymore. I still can't stretch my left arm out very far or do any heavy lifting. Hopefully that will be better soon.

I had my first Chemotherapy appointment yesterday afternoon also. We went in at about 1:30 and didn't leave until 5:30. They have to do everything very slow the first time around to make sure that you don't have any allergic reactions to the medications. I took all sorts of things with me to keep me busy. Books, journal, papers to organize...... But the first thing they gave me was benadryl in case I ended up being allergic to anything. I ended up sleeping through most of the afternoon while Jon read my book. (At least I know it will be worth reading when I get to it :-))Cyndi Thalman stopped by for a minute in the afternoon. She made me this really cute blanket with the pink breast cancer awareness ribbons on it. It will be perfect to take with me every week to keep warm and cozy. So far I haven't felt sick only really tired and worn out.

On another note, today is Olivia's birthday. I can't believe my baby is already 4 years old. Where has the time gone? It sure isn't fun trying to explain this whole mess to her. She just says "Mom I don't want you to loose your hair."All I can say is ........Me either!

New family Pictures

We went in and took the kids pictures and family pictures on Monday. We haven't had the kids pictures taken for awhile and wanted to take family pictures before I lost my hair, so here they are. We went to a place that does amazing things, when you have kids at least. They will crop their "heads" off of other pictures where they are making good faces and put them on pictures where their bodies look okay. So worth the money!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wed Sept 6th

Thank goodness this day is over!! I went in this morning to have a PETscan. I had to fast for this test and for surgery so I was starving all day. I didn't realize that I was going to have to have an IV put in for this test. For this test they inject a radioactive sugar into your system and since the cancer cells metabolize sugar at a high rate it will help them detect where the sugar is and if there are any other "hot spots" elsewhere in your body. When we went into the room where they do the injection the technician handles this substance behind a lead box. He asked my dad "There is going to be radioactive material in this room, would you prefer to leave?" I thought that was amusing that they were worried about him but just going to fill me full of it intravenously. He didn't leave, in case you were wondering. What a guy! That's why I love my dad always willing to take one for the team. They made me wait in a room by myself after that for an hour. I wasn't supposed to talk or even channel surf. He said that by talking I would be using the muscles in my throat and by channel surfing the muscles in my wrists and hand. Apparently this would mess up the scan. Just had to sit in the room for an hour holding still. The scan itself was similar to an MRI a table moving you in and out of a tunnel.

Next we went to the cancer center for Chemo education. We did this with the nurse practitioner Lisa. She went through the ins and outs of treatment, what it was going to be like and the possible side affects. She said that they wanted to do a DNA test on my blood to see if I had a mutated gene somewhere in my line. She said that since I was so young with this diagnosis it was very possible. If there was a mutated gene it would be very likely that I get cancer in the other breast or ovarian cancer at some point. This information would be more useful for preventive care and making better decisions about surgery when we get to that point. We also found out that they received results from the lab that my cancer is Her2neu positive which means I have to have Herceptin with my Chemotherapy. Which is extra time at this treatment as well. It sounds like my Chemo treatment will last about 2 to 3 hours each time. Not only do I have to do this during Chemo, I have to have it done for a year, which means even after Chemo is done I have to keep doing this IV drug every 3 weeks for a year. The news keeps getting better and better as the day goes on!! So this first round of Chemo will be once a week for 12 weeks and I will be taking Taxol. She said this one could be done once every 3 weeks but since my case is more aggressive they are trying to do it every week to stay on top of it. With this first 12 weeks she said it shouldn't be too awfully bad. I will loose my hair in about the next 3 weeks. There is a whole book of side effects from Chemo. Fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, constipation, fertility, nausea..... I think it would be easier to list the things that aren't side effects. I have to be real careful about germs and getting sick since the Chemo will also drop my red and white blood cell count and platelet count. Hand sanitizer is going to be all over my house! They also talked a BUNCH about diet and how important it is to have a well balanced diet and to each smaller meals every 2 to 3 hours instead of the 3 big meals a day.

Then we moved over to the surgery center at the harmony campus of PVH. Moving right along to my 2nd IV of the day. (Apparently the reason for the infusa port) The surgery itself I guess only took about 20 min but I was out for at least an hour. Modern medicine is pretty neat. I remember looking at the clock on the wall in the OR and it said 13:42 and I was thinking, what's with the military time and then waking up in recovery not being able to talk and having this awful taste in my mouth from the tube the put in to help you breathe. My shoulder was the only thing that hurt, apparently they prop your arm up funny to have the right positioning elsewhere. I was in the car and on the way home by 4. I have a little over an inch incision below my collar bone and right now have it "tapped" so the nurse didn't have to mess with it to do my Chemo so that is uncomfortable to have something sticking out of my skin. They will be able to take that out after my Chemo treatment this week. It does hurt a fair amount right now though. Why is it that everyone just said "Take some tylenol and you should be fine." I guess I am just a big baby because tylenol isn't cutting it.

So I will be going in for my first Chemotherapy treatment on Friday. I was supposed be going in tomorrow, but they couldn't fit me in. So Friday is the next big day. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to just sit at home and go nowhere. I am tired of running all over the place and quickly remembering why I like being a homebody!!