Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Maintaining....

I am hanging in there.  Had my first "maintenance" chemo and no side effects at all...awesome.  Each chemo is followed by LRHT chemo day (day 1) and then again on day 3 and day 5....no nausea.  I made it to my niece's wedding in Kamloops and then up to Quesnel to visit family and then we had another wedding (the summer of weddings...four of them!)

Second chemo was last Wednesday...I was fine until Friday and then I started to crap out....tired, tired, tired....all I wanted to do was to sleep.  I was like that until Monday afternoon and then I started to get some energy back.  Monday night was pot luck at our complex and I wasn't too sure if I was going to make it or not but, I did and even walked that night.  I did a "no no"...it was a corn roast...there was so much corn on the cob there...I had to have one...just a little one...no issues!!!  Rick was so sure it would cause an issue with my diverticulitis but, nope...mind you...I am not going to push the issue either.  But it was sooo goooddd....it has been over three years since I had one and I really, really miss BBQ'd corn on the cob!

I saw the naturopath today and my blood levels are all good.  My liver and kidneys are taking a beating with the chemo but...hanging in there.  My tumor markers are down again...yeehaw!  I am scheduled for a CT scan on September 8th so...no LRHT other than chemo day 1.  The LRHT causes inflammation and it can skew the scan....so...IV's only for day 3 and day 5.  That's okay...my pocket book can take the rest!

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible" - Christopher Reeve

Swimming merrily.

Friday, June 26, 2015

And we are off.....

Had the CT scan and while I was waiting for them to release me, I got a visit from the nurse with a paper of information.  Apparently, my kidney levels dropped below the threshold of 60 and since I had the CT scan I need repeat blood work in 48 hours. 

Went to the family doctor on the 23rd for my B12 shot and while I was there I asked about my blood levels and they were 61...lots better.  I knew the chemo was going to be rough on my kidneys but, they are working fine and I am drinking lots of fluids so...it was not something I was overly concerned about.

I also asked about the CT scan results and got a copy printed off for me.  I got knocked flat...it was not news I was expecting or wanted to read about.  I will admit to feeling a bit depressed and I didn't want to talk to anyone or see anyone...I sure didn't tell Rick about it.  Yes, the cancer seems to be stable...yes, one of the tumors shrunk...but, there was mention of new spots.  As usual, the technician who reads these things states that spreading cancer can't be ruled out.  At least, there is still no cancer anywhere else...confined to my lungs.

Saw Dr. Keith (oncologist) on the 24th and we went over the CT results.  He gave the impression that this was all good news which brought my mood up considerably.  Bilateral lung nodules (cancer spots) not significantly changed or slightly smaller.  The largest nodule in my left lung has shrunk from 7mm to 4mm.  I think that is good news, don't you?  The new spots he is attributing to a lung infection.  I picked up a cold at the beginning of May and I have been unable to shake the coughing etc.  No antibiotics as my system seems to be fighting it off my itself...no new spots...no new cancer!  I am stable and the big spot is shrinking...no mention of the smaller spot.

So...we are doing another round of six treatments of chemo....no Carboplatin...only Pemetrexed...no anti-nausea drugs.  Dr. Keith thinks I should handle the new chemo treatment a lot easier.  We are starting at 80% dosage and see how I respond from there.  We talked about targeted cancer treatment but, he doesn't think I am bad enough for that yet...nor, the drug trials.  Good news!  The new treatment sheet he gave me says, "This treatment is being given to keep the cancer from progressing, once it has been successfully controlled with an initial chemotherapy treatment".  Yeehaw!!!

On the 25th I saw my replacement naturopath oncologist (Dr. Lindsay Adrian)...I like her!  We went over the CT scan results and reading them from her perspective....the report talks about the cancer being stable...and oh by the way, it shrunk almost in half.  Again, yeehaw!!!  She prescribed a high dose of Echinacea to combat the lung infection and we continue the treatments as usual.  Each time I have a chemo treatment I go in that day for LRHT and again on day 3 and day 5.  I am back drinking Chaga tea...haven't been feeling very good up to now and not able to drink even normal tea.  At least my dad is happy now!

My summer is back on hold again...we are missing a wedding this weekend because I am still not up to traveling....the chemo treatments won't affect the next two weddings but, we will have to see the calendar to find out about the fourth one.

So...good news for a change!  Swimming in large circles, doing back flips and belly flops!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Upright.....

Met with Dr. Parma (naturopath) to go over treatment results etc.  He is taking a 6-month sabbatical to work on a book he is hoping to release and to collate the cancer study results he is doing, which are finished in June.  So, I get handed off to another doctor there.  Diane's doctor is back from maternity leave so I will transfer to her.  Gonna miss Dr. Parma....  When I see Dr. Keith (oncologist) I am to ask for my "alk" and "egfr" results from the lung biopsy.

We met with Dr. Keith on June 1st and he was in much better spirits...more positive.  I asked for the lung biopsy results and he said they were "negative".  Apparently, that means that I am not a good candidate for targeted cancer treatment....that option now may be off the table for me.  My blood levels were low again so...that means back to the hospital Wednesday morning before chemo for re-testing.  Crap!  Chemo is at 9:15 so that means we have to be at the hospital by 8:00...no sleeping in.  Dr. Keith is also going to lower the chemo dosage again...it's cumulative and I still don't seem to be handling it well.

Wednesday, blood tests...and up to chemo.  Neutrophil levels from 1.0 to over 6.0 again....chemo is a go!  Then off to Fort Langley for my Mistletoe injection, Vitamin C IV and LRHT treatments.  Thursday was not too bad a day....Friday I crashed.  Can't stop coughing and that brings on the gagging reflex and the LRHT treatment has to stop so I can get sick again...second time. No more treatments until after the CT scan.  The LRHT treatments can inflame where the cancer is and I could have a non-true scan result.  We are continuing with weekly IV and injections for now.  The ideas is to wait for the inflammation to settle before the scan is done.

Flat on my ass....I go from the bed to the couch forcing down water...too sick to eat.  I don't even want tea...just water to keep hydrated....dozing most of the day.  At 10:00 I take my sleeping pills and off back to bed for the night.  Wake up - repeat!  Rick is trying to force food down and I can take bits and bites but, that is all.  Don't want food!  By Tuesday I can lift my head without the room spinning and I can sit up part of the day before I have to lie down again.  Wednesday is even better.  Thursday off to Fort Langley for IV and injection...back home...over to the neighbors (haven't seen anyone in six weeks) for lemonade...yumm...back home to bed.  We ordered in supper and I ate every crumb on my plate...even sunflower seeds tasted good.  Man, I was hungry.  I really, really want to get back to normal!  My sinuses are starting to dry up...must have been the lower dosage of carboplatin and the coughing is less...bronchial congestion is starting to break up...I can see the end of the tunnel.

I will not do chemo again...nope...done.  It just takes too much out of me.  I don't feel normal...I don't feel good.  Barely get myself on my feet and...wham...another chemo...repeat six times.  Then it takes months to get any energy back just to do housework or anything.  I miss walking...I hate looking at my bike hanging in the garage not being used.  I hate looking at my craft room because it is not organized...I am tired of being on the couch.  I am tired of not going anywhere or doing anything because life revolves around Abbotsford Hospital.  I miss my friends!

And...we are in a holding pattern again.  The CT scan on the 18th, blood work on the 23rd, my final B12 injection on the 23rd, we see Dr. Keith on the 24th for test results and to discuss my options within the B.C. Cancer Agency and then Dr. Adrian on the 25th and we discuss my options outside of the BCCA.

Swimming weakly, but swimming.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Alrighty then.....

Went to Quesnel for dad's funeral...it was really touching and he would have liked it...right down to the honor guard from the Legion (dad was a vet).  On the drive there I was feeling pretty down and one thought was that I would not be getting a birthday card this year.

Later that night...the family and close friends were gathered around in dad's "man cave" toasting him and reminiscing about dad and just being together.  My stepsisters and I were going through some of dad's photos...seeing which ones we wanted and...there was an envelope with my name written on it.

I opened up the envelope and it was a signed birthday card from dad and my stepmom.  I guess sometime ago he couldn't find the card and sent me another one.  Later on, this one showed up and he put it away...so...I got my birthday card from him this year after all!!  I had a good cry when I officially opened it up on my birthday and it is now on my bookshelf where I can see it all the time.

Something else we found.....dad had written out the words to Amazing Grace and I think it was my niece who found it and a last minute change to his funeral where we had Amazing Grace played...I wish I had known ahead of time...it would have been more poignant  I think...mind you I was a mess to begin with that day and it could have made it worse for me.

So....chemo....fourth one at 100% and I was flat on my back.  First time in a year that I ended up being sick to my stomach too...not impressed.  Had the treatment on Wednesday...then over to Fort Langley for the LRHT treatment.  Back to Fort Langley on the Friday....rough day...and then again on the Monday.  All I wanted to do was sleep!  I go to bed...stay in bed until noon...go back to bed again at 11:00...sleep until noon....I did this for almost two weeks.  Seems like I never got my energy up and back to the hospital on the Monday for blood work and the meeting with Dr. Keith.  My neutrophils were just over 1.0 and we need them over 2.0 before he will consider another chemo treatment. 


He really needs to work on his bedside manner...I have nicknamed him "Dr. Doom & Gloom"....nothing positive from him....talked about quality of care etc. like I am going to die in the next couple of days and there was no point in having chemo....then..."If it was me...I would have the fifth treatment".  Like come on!  Where is the positive attitude here?  Xrays show the cancer is stable right now...no changes...awesome!  I walked away so down and depressed I had a really, really hard time finding anything to feel positive about...almost made me want to give up.  On top of that...my sinuses are going nuts from the chemo and constantly draining which makes me cough which makes my sinuses drain...vicious circle...give me a break!

We are also lowering the dosage back to 80%.   I hate this...I hate cutting back the dosage because I feel I am letting myself down and not giving myself the best chance to fight the cancer. 

Back to the hospital on Wednesday for blood work and my levels have gone from 1 point something to over 8...wicked!  Dr. Parma (naturopath) says this is rare for someone to bounce back so strongly.  Yeah...on paper it says I am doing so good but, my energy levels are tanking....I haven't walked in ages...I can't seem to be upright without almost passing out.  Almost three weeks without walking...feeling too crappy to drink Chaga tea and feeling guilty because I am not drinking it...not wanting to eat....upside is losing weight.  I started way overweight for my height and age group anyway so...lots of room there to do so!

Do the fifth chemo and off to Fort Langley where Kim is my nurse...God bless her...she is so bubbly and upbeat with hugs that my downness (who cares if it is not a word) goes away and my mood is up, up, up.  Also, I find on the internet, "I don't know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text will it ever read, I gave up"....just what I need.  Friday and Tuesday back to Fort Langley for LRHT treatments.

I am tired...sleepy...drained and...in just over a week I am upright!  I made it out the door today for the first time (other than chemo and treatments) in almost two months to have coffee and cookies with my friends....I even made two cards yesterday!!!  We have a week and a half to go until my last treatment and then the CT Scan to see where we are at...and I feel good...I may even get out for a walk.  On top of that...I see my daughter and SIL tomorrow for a visit on their way to the island to pick up the kiddies...then back here on Friday for the weekend and I get my grandkids fix...yippee!

Das it....swimming....




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Updates....

Ok...first round of chemo is going good.  I have had little to no side effects (I even still have hair)...a bit of nausea but, I am on top of it.

We had our meeting with the Naturopath oncologist Dr. Parma and we are going ahead with the treatments at the same time as chemo.  So...on chemo days I go to the hospital to get my chemo meds and then over to Fort Langley for intravenous vitamin C and Loco-regional Hyperthermia treatment (LRHT).   One can find the information on the treatment here.  I return on day three and day five for repeat treatments.  So far so good...the last CT scan shows the cancer is stable.

They also offer total body heat treatment and I had that one on Thursday.  One lies in a "tent" with one's head sticking out and the body temperature is raised to fever pitch (simplistic description).  It took just over four hours for the temperature to be raised up...leveleled and then lowered.  I bought an IPOD shuffle and had eleven Garth Brooks albums loaded so...I was good.  IT WAS HOT!  The only thing uncovered was my head....socks, gloves, arms...everything else covered.  When ones comes out one is super weak and tired.  I think I slept the rest of the day and then Friday all hell broke loose!

Fours kids, three grandchildren and two spare dogs came home for Easter.  Then...throw in one mother-in-law, nephew and fiance and we were crowded.  But...it was fun cuddling...easter egg hunt...early birthday gifts.

Today....I am doing laundry, getting ready to leave tomorrow for the funeral.  Not looking forward to it but, I am swimming...and yes, dad, drinking my tea.

Irish Lament.....

April Fool's Day...who but my father would choose that day to die!  I talked to him on Monday and everything was fine....Wednesday, he was gone.

It still doesn't seem real.  I know I am leaving tomorrow to go to the funeral....I still expect him to be there waving at me from his doorstep or sitting in his gazebo with the heater going in the middle of winter.  His silence will echo when I walk into the house and...the adult part of me is prepared but the little girl part of me is not.

We did not have an easy relationship...lots of baggage and so many scars but, we managed to muddle our way into a father/daughter relationship late in life that I get to treasure.  I have good memories that take the sting out of the bad and I have no regrets.

He was so adamant that I drink Chaga mushroom tea and that it would cure my cancer.  His determination and love alone would be powerful enough to do that.  I drink my tea each day and I think of him standing on my left side with his hand on my shoulder...way to go, kiddo....keep drinking.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Comment issues

Ok so I've realized I have a problem. I have been told that a reader was unable to leave comments on my blog. I don't know if this is due to her browser settings, but once she clicked 'publish' the comment disappeared.  I do my best to reply to all comments left on my blog, so please don't take offense that I haven't replied you - I just didn't know there was a problem.  I have changed the settings to a "popup window" so, hopefully that fixes the issue.