Archive | December 2012

Interruption!

We interrupt the chronological order of this blog to bring you a real time update!  A few weeks ago I had a breast sonogram to see if my tumor had shrunk at all after 3 rounds of chemo.  The good news – the tumor hasn’t grown! The bad news – it hasn’t noticeably shrunk.  My team met and decided it was time to remove my tumor (along with my breast!)  The breast surgeon wanted to do the surgery 2-3 weeks after my last chemo which was 2 days ago today.  Yikes that’s quick.The big problem would be coordinating the two surgeons schedules – the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon. I have opted to have a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. The past week has been a flurry of doctor’s appointments. We got the word on Wednesday December 5th – my surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, December the 11th!  That’s less than a week away.  I appreciate your support and prayers through this difficult time.  At least by Christmas the worst should be over!  After the surgery, they will look at the tumor and decide if the AC chemo was working at all – if it is killing the tumor I will have 2 more cycles of AC.  If isn’t affecting it too much I will just have 4 more rounds of T. 

I appreciate your support and prayers and good wishes through this difficult time.  I really feel that it is helping me stay positive and keeping my spirits up.

My friend Lynn Brown Natolly made this for me!

My friend Lynn Brown Natolly made this for me!

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Attitude of Gratitude! Part 1

I decided to spend November giving thanks for all the blessings in my life.  On November 2nd  I posted on Facebook “I am thankful for loving and supportive family and friends!!! My husband, Earle, who constantly cooks healthy meals for me and makes me green smoothies. My sister, Dana, who is willing to do anything asked. My children who are always checking on me (Doug even does the dishes without being asked!) My Dad for always being there. My Mother-in-law who constantly keeps me in her prayers. Laura and Randy who check on me often. My sister-in-laws, Debbie and Janette, who share their stories of survival with me. Friends who make soup and meals for us. For all the family and friends who brighten my day with cards, emails, phone calls and text messages and keep me in their thoughts and prayers. I feel truly blessed.” 

I was still struggling with neutropenia – my white blood count was only 1300 on the morning of Nov 2nd.  I had to stay home from work again.  I felt pretty good except for being tired and having a little trouble swallowing.  I saw Dr. P.  and I told her about the trouble I had swallowing and she told me to get Prilosec to help with heartburn and to protect my throat.  I also showed her a spot on my head that was revealed when my head was shaved.  She said that she was pretty sure it wasn’t skin cancer and said to use cortisone on it.  She said if it didn’t clear up I could see a dermatologist later.  She also said to use cocoa butter on my scalp to help keep it soft and unprickly.   Dr. P said that she did not like how low my white count was dropping the week after chemo.  This time no Neulasta shot the day after.  Instead, I had to have 1 Neupogen shot everyday for 5 days in a row starting on Monday.  I could either come into the office early in the morning or at 4 in the afternoon.  Neither of those seemed very convenient to me!  The other alternative was for Earle to learn how to give me the shots.  That seemed like the best plan to me – although Earle wasn’t too thrilled with the idea!  We arranged to come back on Monday afternoon which was a day off for both of us.  She also said that she wanted me to wait until Thursday to have my blood test to make sure I was fine.  Then she sent Dana and I to lunch and then we got all the new supplies at the drug store.

Diana was home for the weekend which very nice.  Friends of ours, Terra and Bruce came over on Saturday afternoon.  Bruce and Earle went hunting on the back 40 while Terra, Diana and I chatted.  Bruce got a deer – which was exciting.  When the guys got back we sat down to a delicious meal cooked by Terra – a yummy chicken and broccoli casserole.   As I said on Nov 4th, “I am grateful for wonderful friends that share their company and yummy food with us!!!”  It was a lovely and relaxed weekend.  The deer had to go to the butcher so Terra and Bruce would have to come back the next week to pick up their meat. It was a lovely and relaxed weekend.

Handmade quilt to keep[ me warm during chemo.

Handmade quilt to keep[ me warm during chemo.

On Monday,  November 5th, Earle and two of our friends, Bob and Maricela met me at work for Cruise Night.  I had to work late, so they came to find out about our cruise services.  At 8 pm we finally were able to leave to go to dinner.  We met two of our oldest friends from our Navy squadron days in Maine, Kenny and Vickie.  The 6 of us had  a lovely meal at Big Fish Grille in Crofton.  Vickie presented me with the most amazing and thoughtful gift – an absolutely beautiful handmade quilt!  The pictures don’t do it justice.  There are words embroidered all over the quilt -hope, pray, friends, Jesus, joy, laugh, dream, family, love, smile and grace are just some of the words.   As I said that day, “I am grateful for long lasting friendships that span across many states and many years!!!”  It was a very special evening.

The next day was election day.  After I voted I wrote, “I am grateful that I live in a country where I am able to vote to make my voice heard.”  I stayed up too late to watch the results and went to bed disappointed.   On Wednesday I got to go to Reflexology with Melinda again.  So relaxing.  That day I wrote, “I am very grateful for kind nurses, doctors and other health care providers associated with The Center for Breast Care at Calvert Memorial Hospital. I am also grateful that they offer free Reflexology for breast cancer patients – thanks Melinda!!!”

On Thursday it was time for Chemo number 3.  But first we had to get my Labs done.   As I wrote that day, “I am very thankful that my white blood cell count was up to 7000 today! I am thankful for wonderful friends and family that help and support me in my fight! 3 chemos down, 5 to go!!”  My friend, Tina wanted to come help keep me entertained for Chemo 3.  She also brought a delicious dinner for that evening!  I wore the “Stick to Cancer shirt that my friend Maureen gave me.  My daughter cut the neck bigger so that my port could be

accessed.  My sister Dana came along too and we laughed and joked and enjoyed each other’s company while the drugs went through my system.  Once again I had my free lunch and Dana and Tina left to go to Panera.   Soon after it was time for the “Red Devil”! And then it was time to go home.  Tina watched me try on various hat and wig combos and then helped Earle and I wrangle the “teenage” chickens into the chicken coop! 

I rested on Friday, November 9th.  I also entered an “Attitude of Gratitude” contest sponsored by the Chicken Chick.  My entry said, “I am so grateful for all the family and friends that have gathered around me in my time of need. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and we are very hopeful that it was caught early. In this picture I am undergoing my 3rd chemo treatment with my sister and friend by my side and a handmade quilt by one of my oldest and dearest friends in my lap. I am also grateful for all the wonderful doctors, nurses, and other health care providers that have made everything so much easier. We are all very hopeful that with God’s help and blessings I will become another breast cancer survivor so that I can enjoy my chicken’s antics for many more years!”  The picture I entered is the one in the middle.  A few days after I received the chicken hat in the mail.  What a nice surprise – I laughed out loud!  Kathy – the Chicken Chick saw my entry and sent me the hat her Mom made and a nice card.

We had a very busy weekend!  On Saturday, I posted, “I am grateful for a gloriously beautiful Fall day and a quick visit from my son and my lovely daughter-in-law!” They came in Friday evening for a an over night visit and it was really nice to visit with them.  That afternoon, neighbors of my Dad came over with their 3 kids to pick up the chicks that we ordered for them when we got our last order.  They had just finished their chicken coop.  We had a nice visit and chatted about chickens and cancer.  Later on Terra and Bruce came back to spend the afternoon and pick up their deer meat.  This time Terra made some delicious Enchiladas. Yum! I am getting so spoiled!

On Sunday, I was pretty exhausted!  My sister and her family came over in the afternoon.  Her husband and my husband headed to the basement to start brewing their first batch of beer.  I sat on the couch and tried to carry on a conversation.  My sister kept saying, “Isn’t there something I can do?”  I finally got up some energy to go down to the barn with my nieces.  We visited the animals for a little while and then headed back to the house.  Dana finally talked me into taking a nap.  And while I napped and the guys brewed, Dana and the girls straightened up the house.  It was very much appreciated!  After my nap I felt rested enough to go to dinner with my husband’s childhood friend and his family.  It was lovely to see them!   Their children had grown so much! 

The good thing about cancer is that it causes you to get together with people that are special to you – there is no time like the present!  Life gets so busy sometimes it is hard to fit in all the things that you need to do.  It is more important than ever to do the things that you WANT to do!  Friendship, laughter and love are the things that will sustain me through this chapter of my life,  I hope that when this chapter closes I will remember how important it is to continue to make time to be with all the people that bring joy to my life!

On Monday we had the day off for Veteran’s Day.  I wrote, “I am grateful for all the veterans past and present and their families. I am also grateful that Veteran’s Day means an extra day of rest for me!!! Thanks for your service.”  After a nice, restful day, Earle and I headed to my oncologist’s office so that Earle could learn how to inject me with Neupogen shots.  He just watched and asked questions the first time.  He was not too thrilled about this idea, but I knew he would rise to the occasion.  On Tuesday, he got his first chance to be a nurse.  He took my shot out of the fridge early so that it wouldn’t hurt as much.  He did a fine job, but wasn’t happy that the shot hurt me at all!  He is determined that he will get it just right so that I barely feel it.  I kept telling him that it hurt a lot less than the Neulasta shot – that one really stung! 

That same night I posted, “I am grateful for the – mailman!!! I got three packages today! One from my kids at school (courtesy of Maria), one from a co-worker – Chrystal and one from the The Chicken Chick!!! What a nice surprise!!!”  It was so fun to open up the goodies.  I am so grateful for all the love and support I am getting from everyone.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a card, a package, an email, a text message, a phone call, a comment on this blog or a Facebook post.  I can really feel the love!

On Wednesday, November 15th I had my Lab appointment to check my white blood count.  ” I wrote, “I am grateful for my husband Earle who learned how to give me shots this week – it worked!! White Blood Count at 9000 this morning!!! Highest since I started all this. Wondering why I am so tired today though…”  It was so nice to get good news for once.  The attitude of gratitude will continue through this journey – I think it is really helping!  Thanks for all your prayers, positive thoughts and support!  To be continued…231059_4984660220260_1900762342_n