Saturday, January 31, 2009

Odds and Ends

The last few days have gone by and so far so good. Yesterday I had my first check-up at the oncologist's office. It has been one week since my first chemo treatment, and they need to make sure that everything is going well. My blood counts are ok and fall within the normal range, with the exception of my white blood count, which is low. Suzanne, my nurse, said that was to be expected, and the shot I had this past Monday would be "working" this week to build me back up. All in all I told her that my side effects were manageable, but she did prescribe some other drugs that might help me. I'm a regular medicine cabinet these days. I better not make a quick decision to head to Windsor...the drug sniffing dogs will get overly excited when they near by purse.

After the doctor, I met up with some school friends at Starbucks. :-) It was WONDERFUL to see them all...Terry, Becky, Michelle, Deb, Mary, and Jackie (creator of the fabulous breast cancer blanket). We chatted, laughed and THEY drank coffee.
Yes, you heard me right, I had NO coffee. For those that don't know me... I LOVE COFFEE! (Bill, if you're reading this, you'll have to drink that morning cup for both of us now) Sadly, one of the side effects that chemo produces is a change of tastes for almost anything, and right now the taste of coffee in my mouth is just not working for me. I have tried on several occasions, and keep telling myself that this time, the coffee will taste good. NOT! I can't believe that I'm going to be giving up coffee for MONTHS! I don't know which is worse, having cancer, or not drinking coffee!!! At this point, I'd have to say it's the lack of caffeine!! lol

Mom is heading home to New Jersey today. It's been nice having her here, but I'm sure she's anxious to get home. She has made Steve and I some delicious dinners, our favorite was the unstuffed cabbage and potato pancakes. YUM and thanks Mom! She is also heading back to New Jersey with some baked goodies for her freezer.(hmmm, on second thought, they might not ever make it to the freezer) I made her chocolate whoopie pies (half with maraschino cherry filling!) and chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully she can keep the whoopie pies away from my sister Paula at home. (Paula, you may eat one or two if you ask this time!)

I also briefly wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone that has sent me gifts and cards. I actually look forward to getting the mail every day! I've already planned the next blog entry, it will be devoted to all of you and I'm going to share everything I've more to come on that.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the Superbowl, food, and commercials. I'll be here NOT drinking my coffee. :-(


P.S. to Janet...I'm holding you to that burger and beer at our favorite place! :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

4:31 A.M.

Yes, I was up and staring at the clock at this exact time. I would toss, turn, and think about whether I should actually "get up." It seems that a good night's sleep has been hard to come by (even with sleeping pills given freely by the doc!) If you think about it logically though, I go to "bed" about 8:00,(yes, living the the wild life here!) and if I'm lucky enough to fall asleep within the hour, by four a.m. I've pretty much had a full night's sleep. So I've been waking up at odd hours, and trying hard to fall back asleep. Last night I let laziness take control, and I didn't get up. Luckily I fell back asleep and woke up to Cubby (dog, not husband lol) pleading to go out around 7:15. One more night out the way!

I've been feeling generally ok. The shot on Monday to rebuild white blood cells is now coursing through my body, and I just continue to have the overall feeling of being run over by a bus. I had a small "reaction" yesterday morning after I ate breakfast. I broke out in a cold sweat and was very light headed. I just sat quietly until it passed. If anything had "happened," I had my trusty bodyguards, Cubby and Frankie, waiting anxiously at my feet to jump into action. lol They are my constant shadows. I have no idea how they will ever adjust when I go back to work someday!

Mom has been company for me and has been busy cooking dinners. Our big "outing" yesterday was to Walmart and the library. Can you stand the excitement. After that we had lunch at Panera's which she LOVED. (insert "mmmmm" sound effects here to get her full pleasure) She is tolerating the dogs (I say that in the loosest terms as she is NOT a dog person) and I even saw her slip them some pieces of ham. The funniest though is seeing Cubby (50 lb. Aussie) trying to sit in her lap, and Frankie (8 lb. maltese/pom) perching behind her on the couch smelling her head. LOLOL I'll have to snap a pic of them and post will be a keeper.

I've also come to realize that there is absolutely NOTHING on tv during the daytime. I heard the same news and weather stories twenty times each. What exactly is it, that people at home all day actually do?? I'll be thinking this over as I have a lot of downtime in my future.

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday. I'll be here drinking my water!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

All quiet on the Sunday front

Jessica and Carly have headed back to Chicago, and my sis, Melissa, is on her way back home to Dallas, and MUCH warmer weather! I know she will be overjoyed to shed her newly purchased down coat, and the assorted gloves, scarves, and hats we loaned her to wear while she was here. She just doesn't remember what it's like to live in the cold. She's been a southern gal for too long now, and her blood thins when the temps dip below 70 degrees!lol While my husband Steve, drops my sis off at the airport, he will wait and pick up the next mother! Now this should be an "interesting" week. I'll have to keep you all posted on the "mother visit."

Yesterday, the four of us trooped off to the specialty shop that will assist me with my
"scalp prosthesis." A.K.A. the WIG! lol According to the insurance prescription however, it is called a prosthesis. They can call it whatever the heck they want, but I have to tell you that those wigs looked REAL!! I was truly impressed. I tried on quite a few styles, including a long blonde one, just for kicks! Don't worry,I'm definitely NOT going blonde! I have it narrowed down to three. One is just past my chin, the second is just past the shoulders, and the last is a bit longer. I will go back in about a week and a half to try them on again, and make my final selection. Pam was the woman helping me through the process, and she was great. We all laughed when she told us there were good things and bad things associated with a synthetic wig (which is what I'm getting). Good points: only needs to be washed after 12 weeks, keeps its style permanently, is always ready to go and looks good. Bad points: really only one...DO NOT WEAR NEAR HEAT!! Melting will occur if I open the oven or dishwasher! So, Carly's advice was: DO NOT WIG AND BAKE! lolol Another good point I just thought of, NO "extra protein" in baked goods! (stray hairs for those that don't bake!)

I really haven't had any terrible side effects to date. OK..I felt like crap Friday afternoon after the first chemo round. I couldn't eat, felt spaced out, and was REALLY tired. But I woke up Saturday feeling ok, just had a general run down feeling.
I'm taking extra pills at home that combat the nausea, and they seem to be working well. After the outing to the wig store, Jess and I dropped Carly and my sis off at Best Buy so she could buy a new phone, and there just "happened" to be a Michael's
store across the street. So off Jess and I went. BIG MISTAKE. Letting a baking fiend loose in Michael's is never a good idea. To all my baking friends at CC...Wilton has now come out with a new book all about making FUN brownies! Yes fans, even brownies are now FUN! So, with a bag full of goodies, an hour later we left the store. I am now equipped to make some amazing brownie treats. Watch out world! :-) I'll be sure to post pics!

Tomorrow I must return to the oncologist's office at 9:00 am. I will be receiving my "booster shot" which will start to rebuild the white blood cells in my body that the chemo is currently killing! As soon as this shot builds them back up, I'll be ready for the new annihilation of the same cells the week after at the next chemo treatment. Gotta love the system! I'm going to leave you today on a happy note and post the pic of me, my sis, and my three beautiful daughters, Jessica, Carly and Rachel from our "BREAST WEEKEND EVER" in Chicago last weekend. We had a blast, and it was such a special time, I'll never forget it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Camp Chemo

Mom drinking her 2 liters of water for the day

Carly and Aunt B (Joanne's sister) here... we are filling in for the patient. Well the first round of chemo went smoothly... one down, only fifteen more to go! Mom knew everyone would be checking the blog and wanted to keep you all updated but is feeling a little "under the weather" right now. She doesn't feel sick and she's handling everything really well, she's just a little tired and "spacey" from all the medication. Me, Aunt B and Jess all got to sit with her while they were administering the chemo. We kept her busy and her mind off things. All the nurses were very nice and helpful, they even gave us free swag!!! We got really cool pink breast cancer bracelets, pencils, pins and magnets for our cars. Mom made sure to get enough pins if anyone else would like one. We got a laugh out of her when we made her try on the silly pink hat in the second picture. They have a pretty nice set up at the chemo place... we felt like we were on a first class flight! Mom got to sit in a comfy recliner, there was a TV with internet and movies, and the nice nurse Lisa even came around with a basket of cookies and crackers. We asked for a mango margarita, but only had a chemo cocktail to offer us LoL. Jackie Craite was quite the celebrity today... everyone just LOVED the awesome pink blanket she made for mom (which she is wearing in the picture.) She got tons of comments on how CUTE it was, they all just loved it. So thank you Craite family!!! Tomorrow we are going to a wig salon that specializes in helping chemo patients cope with hair loss. We will make sure to take pictures and post them on here. Well that's it for now, please keep the comments coming, they really lift her spirits and keep her smiling. 

Mom in the silly pink hat texting Rachel.

2 hours and counting....

I actually had a pretty good night's sleep considering I was going to have my first chemo cocktail to look forward to in the morning. I had to wake up early (5:30 am) to go to the bathroom since my sister was a water nazi yesterday. I thought I'd be able to just "float" to chemo today with all of the water I took in yesterday. I was advised, and have been reading, that in order for chemo to go the smoothest, (ok...smooth chemo...that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) I need to take in a MINIMUM of two liters of water daily. Since I'm usually like a camel, and take only the briefest of drinks during the day, I thought my kidneys were going to explode yesterday from the massive water amounts I was drinking. (Not to mention the amount of time it took running to the bathroom every second of the day!) Luckily I fell back asleep and woke up again around 8:00, and AFTER my first cup of coffee, I'm drinking water yet again. I'll try to drink two bottles before I leave. My appointment is scheduled for 11:00 this morning. Carly, Jess, and my sis, Melissa, will be going with me to keep me entertained. (HA) Carly has some "pirated" movies on her laptop (we are NOT going to ask her how she already has Madagascar 2, and Slumdog Millionaire downloaded! She apparently has "her ways!") I'll take some reading material, and my "new to me" Ipod (thanks for your castoff Rach!) which Carly has ALSO downloaded music and books onto. (Now you all know why I don't need to be tech savy...why bother when Carly can do it for me! Too bad she has to go back to college this weekend.) I was also told to bring lunch with me, since I'll be there for three to four hours. Now, normally I'm not one to skip my lunch (or dinner, or dessert for that matter) but I'm thinking I just might not have my "normal appetite" as I'm being hooked up to drugs for four hours! Call me crazy, but it doesn't sound like it will cause one to work up an appetite! I'll let you know how that pans out.

That's it for now. I'll come back later today and let you know how everything goes. YES, I'm nervous and scared, but it's more from the unknown. Once I've actually gone through it, at least I'll know what to expect the next time (and we know there will be many next times). So, off I go into the "wild blue yonder," and I'm going to hang on tight because I know it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well, last night was the night! It was haircut time. My daughters Carly and Jessica, as well as my sister, Melissa, went with me for moral support. (Rach, I know you would have been there too, but college is important too! xoxo) It was only the initial "cutting of the ponytail" that was the worst. I closed my eyes and waited for it to be over. After that, I asked Misty, my wonderful hairdresser, to turn me away from the mirror. I then waited patiently for her to work her magic.
It was over before I knew it (ok..that's a seemed like I was sitting in that chair FOREVER!) but when she finally turned me around, I was happy with the results. It didn't look like "me" but that's ok too...everything else is changing around me, so I might as well go with the flow. I'm sending the ponytail off today to Locks of Love and feel good that something positive is coming from all of this. I might need to wear a scarf today, my neck won't be used to the cold! lol

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21

Well, as most of you know by now, my surgery this past Monday did not take place. This was the second time the surgery had to be canceled. I was originally scheduled for my mastectomy on New Year's Eve day, but due to "suspicious" areas that showed up on my CAT scan, it had to be delayed.
I needed to PET scan at that time to rule out the spread of cancer, and luckily that scan came back with the "all clear" and the surgery was rescheduled for January 19 (two days ago). Well, I made it into the O.R. but came back out with my breast still attached and right were I had left it! Sadly, my surgeon noticed swelling and took a skin biopsy, and found that the cancer had spread to the skin in my breast, and could not perform the surgery. I had already had a skin biopsy, only four short weeks ago, and it came back clear. The cancer is aggressive, however, and spread in that short time. I was back home Monday afternoon, and was told that I would need to start chemo right away to stop the cancer from spreading. They could not wait the three weeks that I would need to recover from surgery....we need to stop it now! I met with my oncologist yesterday, and was given my chemo "plan." I will be starting this Friday morning at 11:00, and will be on a "dense dose." Which means the first drugs, adriamycin and cytoxan, will be given every two weeks, for two months. These are the "big guns" and will cause me the most side effects, whatever they turn out to be for me. After those drugs are finished, I will begin taxol, which will be administered once a week for twelve weeks. I know...a long time...but it's the road I must travel. I was told yesterday that one of the "givens" for the first round of drugs will be hair loss by the second session. So, in preparation, I'm getting my long hair cut short tonight. I plan to send my hair off to Locks of Love, in the hopes that someone else may get some use from it. Hopefully, the short hair will be "easier" to lose (ha) than the long.

This afternoon, also in preparation for the chemo to start, I must go back (again) to the hospital for a new scan this time (I've had so many it's hard to keep track!). This one is called a Mugascan, which will give the doctors a baseline on my heart. The drugs I will be taking can affect the heart, and to keep "tabs" on my heart, they must have this baseline scan. Looks like tomorrow I will be free as a bird! No tests, doctors, or medicine. Sounds like a SHOPPING DAY to me! :-) And since I've been told not to drink any alcohol during chemo, I need to get in my last mango margarita for quite some time.

Onwards and upwards....let the journey begin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Post

Welcome to my blog!