Friday, January 30, 2015

Oh shit...I mean...oh shoot...

Last night at 6:30 p.m. I got a phone call from my oncologist.  He wants to do a kidney function test as soon as possible...hopefully, the next day.  Abbotsford hospital will call with the details.

Now...I just finished the bone scan, the lung biopsy and a CT, my mind is going a mile a minute wondering what went wrong...what showed up?  Me?  I choose to ignore the whole situation and try to not think about it at all.  Actually, I even dropped off to sleep right way without my mind going and going over it all.  I guess Rick wasn't so lucky.  He said he never got a wink of sleep.  I just told him my mantra is:  1) Was there anything that can be done about it?  NOPE.  2)  Was getting all upset over it going to change the situation?  NOPE.  Just go with it!

So...this morning at 7:23 a.m. Abbotsford hospital calls and says they want to do the test this morning at 9:00.  Have I eaten anything?  Nope.  Stay hydrated...clear fluids only.  Okay, Rick is working with a friend this morning and can't take me to the hospital.  Who do I know who is awake that I can call to get me there?  Hello, Gillian...?  Off to the hospital we go and we sit and sit and sit as usual waiting for my turn. 

Finally, they call me in to Nuclear Radiation and my first question...what is wrong?  Nothing...phew...just a pre-chemotherapy test on my kidneys to see how they are.  Relief is not spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S!  The tech says Dr. Keith is the best and if she ever got cancer...he is who she would want.  It is nice to hear that I have the best fighting for me.  A different tech knocks and now Dr. Keith wants another blood test run so up to the lab in a few minutes.  Two arms with for the radioactive solution and the other for the blood tests.  Three vials of blood from one injection in the other arm.  Now I have two hours to kill before I come back so, off to the lab I go.

The lab does not have a requisition yet and she phones down to Dr. Keith's office to get one.  What do you mean you won't use the port?  Sorry, no more holes today...I will take the requisition with me and they can draw it in Nuclear Radiation when they draw the rest of my blood. 

Half an hour later...requisition in hand...I head off to the cafeteria for something to eat and find a quiet spot to eat and read a book while I am waiting.  Back to the NR for more blood...three more vials later...requisition handed over and back in one hour.  Off to a quiet spot again to kill time.  Back to NR and this time it is four vials...back in one hour for the last three vials.  This time they want to do a quick CT scan of my arm to see if any radioactive solution got under my skin...passed that test and I am on my way.

Dump off my coat...get rid of the tape and gauze on my arm...grab the masking tape...tape off my craft room getting ready for a fresh coat of paint tomorrow.  I have crafting supplies in the middle of the room, in our bedroom, in the laundry room, in the dining room and the family room.  I can't wait to set up the new furniture and unpack and downsize as I am organizing.

Sitting on the floor masking off the baseboards and the phone rings...Dr. Keith's office...he wants to see me on Wednesday...wonderful...I don't have to wait another week to get the results. 

Where am I?  Trying to not think about it (see mantra above).  I know there is a real possibility the cancer has spread from my lungs to my bones.  I know there is a real possibility that I don't even have the two years.  So...until I hear different from my doctor...I am pulling a Scarlet O'Hara, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow".

I'll go on...still swimming.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My lucky day...

Up at 6:00 a.m. to be at the hospital by 8:30.  It is an hour drive from home to the hospital and...we had to stop for gas on they way.

Got into hospital gear and settled into my bed when Rick asked me if I was okay...nope!  Didn't want to be there...didn't want the test done...don't want cancer...want to go home.  Off to the CT room where they mapped the spots...marked my body.  The doctor can't find a special pen so I told him it was okay to use a Sharpie...I have lots of alcohol markers at home and a big bottle of solution that will remove the marks from my body.  This time I was face down on the bed...not too comfortable.  I really liked this doctor as he talked to me throughout the whole procedure.  I knew what he was doing and when he was doing, no surprises.

Off to xray and then back to my spot in recovery.  A couple of minutes later the doctor arrives and informs me that my lung has collapsed and he needs to put in a tube to inflate it.  Back into CT and mapping again...then the tube put in...this time in the front chest...more freezing.  Have I said how much I love needles...NOT!   "Where did this fluid come from?"...not words you want to hear your doctor say when he is supposed to be sucking air from your chest.  Apparently...the fluid buildup was from radiation.  No wonder I was having so much trouble breathing! 

So...after sucking out all the fluid (thanks) and then the air pocket...back to xray to get a reference point for the followup.  One hour later back to xray and then the doctor telling far so good and he was turning off the pump to see if I would leak.  One hour later back to xray to say I was doing fine and I could go home.  No offense but, seven hours at the hospital was enough for me.

Where does "My lucky day" come into it?  The nurses told me that it was not common for someone to leave the hospital after having their lung re-inflated.  Most people end up spending the night.  In fact, the last person they had stayed for a few weeks.

So...I will go on...just keep swimming.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Yesterday was the meeting with my chemo oncologist, Dr. Keith.  At least he was more upbeat about everything.  Yes, I have spots in both lungs.  Yes, it is now stage 4 cancer.  No, do not go on your trip.

So...I am scheduled for a repeat CT scan, this time including the pelvic area.  He also wants a bone scan done because I have developed shooting pains in my shins.  And, a lung biopsy to see if the new spots are indeed cancerous and what kind.  Each kind of cancer (pancreatic, ovarian, breast, lung, etc.) have their own sets of chemo.  Hopefully, all the tests will be done within the next two weeks and I go back for a followup on the 10th of February.  Dr. Keith cautioned me that the spots on my lungs may be classed as too small for biopsy and we may have to wait for that.  I would like to know...what is "big enough"?  How big do they have to be and what effect that has on my survival rate?  Limbo!

We talked about complimentary treatments...mainly the hyperthermic ones.  Dr. Keith, in his opinion, felt that they would not work on non-small cell cancer that has metastasized.  The National Cancer Agency reports that there are numerous trials going on with the treatment in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy with promising results.  I postponed my appointment with the Naturopath until I receive the results of the new tests.

This morning I sat on the phone calling our travel agent to cancel the trip.  Next call was to the hotel in Fort Lauderdale cancelling our reservation.  Last call was to airlines to cancel our flight.  I got lucky and got the "trouble-shooting" agent.  He cancelled the flight with no fee and is refunding the full amount back. 

I am starting to downsize my craft supplies and listed two of the larger items on Craigslist (my Copic air compresser and my 132-set of Prismacolor).  Hopefully, they will sell fast as I would like to buy the smaller (48) set of Prismacolors.  I am ordering some furniture for the room and as I pack things up I can sort through and list what I want to get rid of.  I am not looking forward to that process but, I am looking forward to no longer being overwhelmed with it all and get back to what I love to do.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ok, God....

Today I met my friends for coffee and cookies at my favorite craft store...being greeted by hugs from everyone (they read my blogs).  It was sort of weird...touching on the subject...not touching on the subject and it ended up a relatively peaceful and calm day...until I was leaving.

I got into conversation with Iris and I started losing it.  Up to that point, I have been numbish and it was certainly there in the back of my mind...but, you know what I mean?  God came up in the conversation and I mentioned that I was angry and she told me it was okay to tell him, "He can take it".  That was a weight lifted and as soon as I left the store I started crying and I laid into God as I was driving down the road.

I told him how pissed off I, how fricken angry I was at him for doing this.  I didn't deserve this and I had earned better from him.  I survived a tough childhood he gave me, I survived the rough teenage period he gave me, I survived a lousy, rotten, abusive marriage.  I times, trying very hard not to think, "no thanks to you".  I remarried, I retired, life was starting to be fun.  We were busy with kids and grandkids, we were no longer struggling financially, we were busy with friends... traveling and camping (ok...RVing).  I survived the first round of cancer treatment.

We were planning a dream vacation...then I got nailed with the first diagnosis.  All the doctors told me I would still be going on the Panama cruise...NOT!  Iris said it was okay to ask for what you want and I told him I want to live....I do not want to die.  I want to grow old with Rick.  I want to see my kids and watch our grandchildren grow up...I have too much I want to see and do. I want more time!  I have earned more time!

After supper...sitting and listening to the news on the TV, I picked up my tablet and "googled" "how to beat stage 4 lung cancer".  I guess God was listening and he directed my web search...because Paul Kalanithi (chief resident in neurological surgery at Stanford University) wrote an article and it came up..."How Long Have I Got Left".  I highly recommend anyone reading the article.  He was diagnosed at age 36 with stage 4 lung cancer.  Well written and informative article and I got a lot out of it.

One thing:  'Life expectancy' and statistics (which are dire and I have done my best to stay away from)....everyone responds to treatment differently...there are inroads every day in treatment.  Hell, when Rick's brother passed away five years ago from lung cancer there was no Etoposide or Cisplatin (my chemo treatments).  Who knows what will be there in the next two years!  Besides...someone has to be in the small percentage of survivors and I am going to be one of them!

Second thing:  Samuel Beckett, an author I had heard about but, never read anything words that spoke to Paul and resonated through me, (I can't go on, I'll go on).

Third thing:  Hope.  Hope I will survive...hope that in the dark of night and I am alone and scared, God will carry me. world is no longer spinning...just slightly wobbling.  I am swimming and I will go on!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yep, yep, yep...

I had my meeting with Dr. Hsu yesterday (radiation oncologist) and not quite what I was hoping for but, deep down...what I expected.  With all the prayers and good wishes that went with me it should have been different. really was not a major shock...just enough to knock me on my ass.

Good news:  The two large tumors (one in my lung and other in the lymph node between my heart and my aorta valve) at the end of August were shrunken in half.  December 22nd scan showed them to be almost gone to non existent...just lots of scar tissue.

Bad news:  The two small spots that the PET scan picked up in August (classed as too small to characterize) have grown and spread into both lungs.  I am now classed as Stage 4 cancer. to two years for survival.  Lovely.  Radiation is not an option as...1.  they are too small and 2.  too numerous right now to target.  If...down the or more become "problematic" Dr. Hsu will revisit radiation. Panama Canal least...not recommended by Dr. Hsu that I go.  I guess cancer could grow and spread too fast and I do not like the thought of a Panamanian or Mexican hospital with the chance that I might not get home.

I see Dr. Keith (chemo oncologist) on the 12th to see what route we go....last ditch hope as we have until the 15th to pay for the trip.  I have a few questions for, why with all the chemo I had did I end up with two more small spots?  Shouldn't the chemo have killed it all?  I also made an appointment with a Naturopath to investigate Hyperthermic treatments.  Cancer does not like heat and it seems to have worked in the case of one of the couples who are going on the cruise.  She had four tumors (although they were a lot smaller than the two I had including the new ones).  She did the treatments along with chemo and radiation.  Three tumors are gone and the fourth shrunk 80%.  You never know.

Rick is falling apart...I don't have that luxury.  If I give in I am scared I will shatter into a million pieces and I won't be able to put myself back together.  I am not much comfort to him right now as I am barely holding it together and trying very hard to stay numb.  I know I am the stronger person and I will have to prop him up along with the kids when the going gets really tough and, I don't know if I can do it alone.

I know all the well wishes and the prayers are coming my way but, in the dark when I am alone who do I have to prop me up and carry me through the rough times?  I love him dearly but, Rick is not a strong person...he will not be able to do it.

Everyone says I am strong and I can do this.  Right now I am just frickin' scared.  I am tired.  I am sitting in my craft room looking at all the stuff here and knowing I have to go through it all and get rid of a lot of way can I leave it for Rick to deal with...that is so not fair to him.  I don't think doing so is negative or giving up...just realistic.

I am not getting rid of everything....just going back down to basics of why I fell in love with crafting to begin with....stamping, coloring and glittering.  I have gotten so caught up with all the new dies etc. that I have become overwhelmed with tools and techniques but...not doing anything.  I have a few "bucket list" projects that I want to do...also, thinking about memory boxes for the grandkids (cards for their birthdays, graduation etc.).  I would like to leave pieces of me behind for them.  A friend says it is creepy but, who knows.

We just got back from going into town to tell Rick's mother.  She is worried but, took the news pretty good...just wants the truth from us and to keep her informed.  For an old bird of 90+...she is pretty is my dad!

When I got home yesterday I "googled" for a picture that I used to have in my wallet...a picture of a crane with a frog in it's mouth and the frog having both hands wrapped around the crane's neck...with the caption "Don't ever give up".  I posted it on Facebook and my cousin commented that her brother had it in his room on his wall.  Ted passed away from testicular cancer at too young an age...I miss him.  When Carol posted was like another angel tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I am with you". 

I am still numb.  I have not gotten to the angry part yet.  I also saw another poster, "You've only got three choices in life...give up, give in or give it all you've got".  Guess which one I am choosing?

To quote a little fish, "When life gets you down you know what you gotta do?  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  What do we do we swim, swim?".

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Have you ever wanted time to speed up the same time...slow down?  That is where I am right now. 

Back on August 22nd when they told me my next scan would be December 22nd....God, that was four months away.  Could I handle my life being on hold that long?  Could I hold my breath that long?  Then I blinked and the scan date was here.  Now it is two more days until I get the verdict on the 7th.

I can't sit and write my feelings down.  I can't verbalize them either.  I am too scared.  I go through each day trying not to think about it....or, feel anything.  I can fill tomorrow up with mundane tasks as laundry needs to be done and that wipes me out so all I want to do is sleep later.  I can clean the house or fill my time with mindless dvd's.

On the good hair is growing back!  It is about 1" long all over came back thicker and curlier...go figure!  Also, I lost weight.  I am 10lbs. less than my pre-cancer treatment start weight. 

So....I will fill my time with Pinterest and anything else that is "brain babble" until I hear from the doctors.