Attitude of Gratitude

and Kick Butt!!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

6 months later, i'm back to work.....! since december '09, when i was first diagnosed till now it has been 6 months. during that time i had surgery to remove the tumor from the lower 1/3 of my bowels (lovely) and began recovery from that. when, under support of the oncologist, began an oral pill form of 5FU/chemotherapy which lasted 2 weeks. i was very sick during those 2 weeks and did not want to continue that pill form. so, under direction of the oncologist, he thought a trial form of 5FU intravenously would be helpful, since i was considered "high risk" because of the grade of cancer cells that were in my body.
by the 3rd treatment i was done for. i became very ill and was hospitalized twice through the course of treatments; once over-nite...many time spent in the ER with complaints of abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. i went from being 172lbs to 137lbs by last hospitalization, only 4 weeks ago.
today, i am back to work...part-time. my emloyers are very lenient on my energy levels and how much i can do, which is a total blessing. i am driving, and am eating well trying to maintain small meals several times a day to keep my nutrition up.
for now i am on the Kaiser surveillance plan in which they will monitor me every 3 months for the first year. today is my first CEA blood test, which is a marker for cancer in my body. i am praying for the number "zero"!
all my friends, neighbors, family, church family and co-workers have been outstanding and so loving, kind and gracious not only with their time, but finances, helping me at home and in the yard. i can never repay everyone but to say thank you and then have the opportunity to pay-it-forward, someday.
blessings to all
thank you from the depth of my heart

Saturday, March 13, 2010

howdy everyone!

been along time since i posted. just sorta got tired of hearing my own voice, frankly. you see, i was back in the hospital last week from severe diarrhea, severe umbilical pain and low BP. i had to endure 2 colonoscopies; one of which failed cuz they didn't have me sedated enough; the other was the next day so i still had to drink 2 liters of the Go Litely, which is a misnomer :)
prior to this i was having a bad reaction to the Xeloda (pill form of 5FU), which have me severe hives on my face, neck and chest, swelling my lips. leaving the choice of continuing on this drug, outta the question.
as of this week, i am on a trial of intravenous 5FU and levocorin, which is just something the infuse prior to the 5FU so it stays around in my body longer. at 80% of the dose, this week, they are monitoring me closely for reactions. of which so far, i have nausea at times, fatigue and a stomach ache (which is bearable).
so the course of my treatment will be once a week infusion, for 6 weeks; then 2 weeks off - then repeating the same treatment...and deciding from there.
i've lost 25 pounds, have periods of complete and udder fatigue. but also have help from neighbors for cleaning my front and back yard (thank God), and hauling in wood for me to keep warm with the wood burning stove. they've even started offering to walk Oliver, my sweet boy, which he loves!
hope all are doing well.
God bless

Thursday, February 18, 2010

what a long strange trip it's been....., anyone that remembers that song, can relate. whew! can i just say, from my perspective, this road i am on is interesting, to say the least: i still get caught crying every day, i am having weird side effects of the medication/chemo i am taking, and my family and friends CONstantly blow me away.

you see? there's a fine line i get into sometimes where i think people are just bein nice because i'm a cancer girl now and am taking chemo. i know that does not sound very gracious of me, but i don't remember receiving so much kindness before this. maybe it's a combination that now i need help and people are more than willing to help; but also that i really NEED the help, so i'm letting people into my heart and my life like i never did before. giving can be so much easier; whereas receiving has been a total mind blower that literally can knock me to my knees and make me an emotional mess from the magnanimous moments of time, gifts, food, prayer and friendship.

weird side effects: constipation (whippee), one night of complete and utter helplessness from vomiting, cramping and abdominal pain, blotches on my face which is new, my skin is always dry and itchy because of the dryness, i can never drink enough water because i'm always dehydrated, and i have a metal taste in my mouth that has changed the taste of my smoothies, and other foods. my energy level is back down to pretty much givin up ghost about 1/2 in the afternoon. thoughts of going out with friends at night are usually sketchy...always fun...but i'm usually told i look tired by the end of it (not at all the look i was going for) :)

i am getting in walks, but without oliver. he is a sweet boy but doesn't behave well on leash (as pam would know), so i've foregone taking him for now. it isn't that he misbehaves, he just has a dislike for other dogs that are walking on the street at the same time he does :)

family and friends blow me away: spending time with me because they actually really want to (amazing!), taking me to movies and out to dinner (such a blessing to see the world outside of my house), bringing me delicious home-made soups, advice on the housing market, having help with my firewood, my yard, cutting of my lawn, and help from work friends with financial giving and sharing of their time-off. not to mention, the hugs, prayers, extended prayer chains/church groups, words of comfort, words of wisdom, words of encouragement, love, sharing of stories...and listening ears and hearts. wow, blown away. and all of this, i know from God, of which i am thankful He is placing me on this path.

i daily do not know what is around the bend from day to day; i totally live my life as if in limbo, not knowing how the chemo will affect me, not knowing how i'll feel from one day to the next. what i know is that i had cancer, i am on chemo, i have the love of the Lord as evidenced by my family and friends...and i continue to try and do my part by keeping my heart open, as well as my hands, and especially my eyes and ears to hear how He has this planned out.

so, with that, it's a beautiful, sunny day! i think i'll go for a short walk...get the "stink blown off", like my mom and dad would say :)
have a most awesome day
God bless

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

now 6 weeks post op and Xeloda started.....

hi everyone...just wanted to write a quick update as to wazzup wid me. first, wow!, the last blog i wrote sounded like i was writing an Admission Summary for my job, after having interviewed a patient earlier in the day...whew!

it is not easy to assume/guess that i am having waaaaay difficulty in still realizing that i received a diagnosis of cancer. but i did receive one, cuz i see people's lips moving, and that's what they tell me. AND i am seeing medical professionals who want to draw my blood, give me chemo and see me every 3, i keep telling myself that i have to believe them. wow, what a long strange trip this continues to be.....

so, weigh leigh your fears, however...i'm beginning cancer counseling today, and will be seeing her every other week - on orders of the oncologist. i guess i'll get my head screwed on right there about these last few months. can't seem to do it on my own at home, crying every day. :)

of note, i started the chemo medication: Xeloda on monday night. they are 500mg tablets of which 3 i take in the morning and 4 at night - totaling 3500mg of chemo a day. so, as you can imagine, i find myself holding my breath, waiting to feel effects/side effects in my body. so, far good, except for tingling of the palms of my hands.

friends and family have been awesomely awesome. i really can't say enough. through emails, facebook, phone calls, people taking me to the show, long drives; everyone makes me laugh, and everyone has been so helpful: bringing wood in for me, cleaning my yard, taking me on drives, listening to me whine, and of course, prayers :) thank you to everyone so much.

on the financial side...which i will definitely just leave up to God from now on, i will be defaulting on my home loan this month. this has been a tough home to hold onto anyway, but when there's no end in site as to when i'll be back to work, it is a tough decision, but one that has to be made.

i would love to say that i'll be back to work in march, but i do not know the effects of this chemotherapy as yet. currently, my strength has built from the surgery in december, cuz i have been eating very extremely healthy; but chemo is to deplete it again, so they say...maybe it won't, since i've strengthened myself from within. frankly, i feel like my whole life is just a crap shoot right now. that's not a good place for someone like me who tends to control, too much, and wants to know whazup as much as possible. :)

thanks for listening...continued prayers are awesome! that's it on the home front
love and God bless

Thursday, February 4, 2010

5 weeks post op and starting chemo....

thanks to everyone who prays as well as sends their best wishes. yesterday i am 5 weeks post op from bowel resection for Type 2 colon cancer, of which was diagnosed as T3 (high risk) because of it's growth outside the wall of the colon as well as lympho-vascular involvement.

having conferenced with the oncologist twice it was determined i would benefit from chemotherapy, of which was originally to be a central like with two chemos running (one in the clinic and the other on a pump that i'd take home for 48 hours and return 2 days later for removal).

after the oncologist conferenced with other oncologists they determined that may be overkill and would rather suggest pill form chemotherapy, of this will still have the same effects and side effects.

the medication is called Xeloda, which sounds like a dose that will be approx 1250mg. i'll be taking it twice daily (beginning Monday, 2/8/10) for a 14 day cycle...resting a week...beginning the cycle again.....for 8 complete cycles.

the medication changes to 5-FU in my body, broken down in my liver, excreted through my urine. it will affect all my body systems and i will have side effects of nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, bone marrow depletion, hair loss, and foot/hand syndrome in which the soles of my hands and feet will (basically) burn, blister and become painful to do activities of daily living.

i will have labs drawn every 3 weeks to monitor my blood chemistry as well as my kidneys; and will also see the oncologist prior to each new course of treatment to adjust the dosage as best as possible to weigh-leigh side effects.

any side effects will go away once the medication is discontinued.

with this plan, i ought to be done in July...still some summer left! :)

i'm continuing on FMLA, per MD orders, for now until mid-March, which means i am still not working. i drive to church and back, which is about a mile. i tire easily, still. but am eating verrrry healthy: fruit/veggies/organic, drinking lots of water.

i am walking the neighborhood for strengthening and volunteering at the church for sanity: stapling, folding, laughing.

i won't lie...i am not at all comfortable in putting that first pill in my mouth on monday...nor am i looking forward to experiencing the effects of the pill as it becomes absorbed into my body. i cannot still wrap my brain around that this has even been happening to me. but i am told that after 2 years, i'll be cancer that i can wrap my brain around. also, that by this time next year, i'll be feeling better and actually have energy to sit and or stand for more than a few minutes at a time. :)

thanks for all prayers and concerns. love you all very much. please stay in touch

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

4 weeks postop...and still fightin....

thanks to everyone who has been praying and keeps my recovery in their prayers. i also want to thank my work peers for staying in touch; my neighbors as well, and my church family who have been awesome in coming by the cleaning my front yard and demossing my lime-green driveway! :)

being at 4 weeks postop, i'm doing ok. this has been a long road, i will not lie. a couple of days ago my friend found a blog site written by a man who had a similar surgery as mine in which he validated all the ills i've had since being home till now. it was such a God send as it totally validated the condition, my condition is in. :)

i continue to be very weak; does not take much to wear me out. i have driven myself to church, which is less than a mile down the road! :) and a friend has gotten me out to a movie. i still don't have an appetite and my digestive system is completely foreign to me now.

but there is good news....i have prayed double triple hard for the Lord to heal me, as only He can. and i am helping the best i can be eating as healthy as i can. so i have adjusted my diet to only 'alive' things: fruits/vegetables, organic, etc. not only in an effort to help God heal my body, but to also prepare my body for chemotherapy, if i opt to use it. i would want to/need to start working at some point and can't do so if i continue to be as weak as i am. so prayers along this line are very helpful. :)

in the meantime i am beginning a journey of how to let people help me. i have been in a giving position for all of my career as a nurse, and has a human being. and now i need help from others: grocery shopping, vacuuming, staking wood, cleaning my yard...sheesh! but the toughest part will be in opening my hands and letting people help. so, here i go...

here's to good health! and here's too receiving love!
God bless everyone

Monday, January 18, 2010

updated surgeon and oncology information

just a note for updating everyone on what has been going on the last week, for me.

debbie, after staying with me for a month, went home on friday evening. and then my eldest sister, sally, came into town the next day. over the weekend my brother and his family, from seattle, came back down to visit and to laugh and support. that was fun. my sister, sally, will leave this coming saturday.

as i have probably let everyone know, i was trying so very desperately to go to Florida on saturday to walk the Breast Cancer walk in West Palm with my niece, cristal and my sister, nancy. but i had to cancel the trip as i am not strong enough to travel. at least, not without a nurse with me :))

this past week i saw the surgeon for my first post op visit (after 2 weeks post op) and though weak, rediculously tired, freezing cold and without appetite and 15lbs down, she states i "looked great!" and am "exactly where i ought to be at" for only being 2 weeks post op. debbie and i thought for sure i'd be back in the hospital. but her comments gave me inspiration and i felt as good as she thought i looked. so i bundled myself back up in all my layers and debbie drove me home :)

the next day, friday, was my appt with the oncologist; of which my sister, janet, came with me. he is a very smart man and i really enjoyed my visit with him. he states it is moderately recommended, as compared to low and or highly recommended, that i have chemotherapy, even though the colon cancer that i had was a stage 2.

he added there is not enough research/case studies for stage 2 colon cancer patients; there is mainly stage 3 research. but that the chance that i will not have recurring metastasis for colon cancer to my other organs is 75%. which is very good odds. he added, however, that with chemotherapy this is raised by 10%, even given the risks of chemo.

though i am only stage 2 colon cancer, i am still at high risk because i am positive for lympho-vascular involvement, even though i have 0/24 lymph node involvement; also that the tumor had invaded the wall of the colon by the time it was removed.

the chemo that i would be receiving is provided in the onology clinic every other week for 6 months. it is a combination of 2 drugs and is called folfox (Folinic Acid, Oxaliplatin and Fluorouracil). one drug is administered in the clinic, via a central line into my body; the other drug is put on a pump and will run into my body via the same central line for 2 days with my returning to the clinic for it's removal.

the oncologist states some people are able to work, at least modified schedules. i have talked with my employer briefly this past weekend and he states that could be the same for me. but i need to talk with them further.

they do not start chemotherapy until 6 weeks post op so this will not begin until mid february.

after saturday, i have no other family/friends coming to stay with me. but will definitely be using all the wonderful offers of help and assistance as the next 6-7 months unfold.

God bless