Friday, September 29, 2006

YAY! Two whole days... Don't have to be anywhere. Don't have to do anything. Don't have pending appointments that might hold more ugly surprises. Next week should be relatively calm. Mon-Fri rads, Wed chemo pump refresh, and one dr appointment but that should just be a checkup on the port wound. Tuesday a rep from NorthAmerican/Allied is coming to estimate the household pack and move.

If you're interested in the whole game plan, I've color-coded a CALENDAR for this awfully big adventure, marking my many circles of activity. It's really for my reference, but if you're curious, you're welcome to check it out.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

And now we have added a fanny pack with a chemo pump in it. A very narrow tube runs up to the port on my chest/shoulder so the 5-FU can be applied 24/7. Thus, I'm set and Phase I is in full swing, six weeks of radiation and chemo. wheeeee

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I think I'll be the Bride of Frankenstein for Halloween. My white roots are showing. I have blue-green skin in places where the bloodwork vamps bruised me. And, I have fresh stitches on my shoulder (from the port implant). *GRIN* I'm all ready! muahahahaha!

Monday, September 25, 2006

We're on our way! First rads today. Didn't feel a thing, just like they said, and it'll be a few weeks before it accumulates enough to cause even the reportedly mild side effects. Very glad to be on the road to wellness though. I'm sure that, like a bruise, it will get worse before it gets better, but ultimately I should be healed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

You know, I've felt rather blindsided by this deal, but then I realized....
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The current game plan, for any who may be too curious for their own good. :)

Phase I: Six weeks of chemoradiation therapy, ie daily radiation treatments Monday thru Friday plus continuous infusion of chemo (5-FU) with pack recharge on Wednesdays. Purpose: Containment and shrinkage.

Phase II: Four to six weeks rest period.
Purpose: Allowing good tissue to recover from chemoradiation, ie heal somewhat prior to surgery.

(During this time I'll be going home for a long weekend to celebrate Mom & Dad's 50th Anniversary by participating in their renewal wedding ceremony and reception (on Nov 18th). Tentatively planning to then return here and have the contents of this house packed and moved to NM the week after Thanksgiving.)

Phase III: Surgery, likely to occur the first week of December. Temporary ileostomy performed during surgery. Concurrent follow-up chemo.
Purpose: Removal of threat, resection, temporary stoma to allow thorough healing, and chemo to backup surgical remedy.

(Mom & Dad will come here for the surgery. Planning to go back home to Ky with them and have them keep me over Christmas and as long as possible until I have to be back for follow-ups, etc.)

Phase IV: Reversal of ileostomy likely to occur near the end of January.
Purpose: Hopefully, resumption of normal life. Hopefully able to finally join my spouse in NM.

And again for the more morbidly curious or cancer conscious, my most current diagnosis is T3 N0 M0 with a possible T3 N1 M0. Not 100% sure about the Node involvement, so they're covering my bases and treating me as if it's N1, just in case.

Here's a good page to explain the Staging (T3 N1 M0)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dang, I have homework this weekend. Got whole notebooks from NARTI (radiation therapy place) and the oncologist (incl chemo treatments). A lot of the info is just image builder stuff, ala welcome and staff and whatever. But there's also some practices and procedural info I should probably read.

My last task this week was having the chemo port installed, ie, the implanted jack for my fanny pack device that will deliver the chemicals through continuous infusion. Too bad I can't use it as a computer interface too *weg* Ah, well. Someday. hehe

The port is in about the same place as an STNG personal communication device. "Beam me to the 24th Century! Where cancer is a footnote in history or cured with a hypospray!"

As one might expect, the focus of my life has shifted. Though in true Gemini style, I have two: treating my ailment and moving/swapping houses.

My new mantra is: I have cancer, it doesn't have me. (And definitely will not -get- me.)

I am just concluding one of the hardest two weeks in my life, but it wasn't all that terrible. There were moments, but the rest was mostly gleaning new information and juggling logistics. I'm good at both. I've also had a great helper right by my side, as mentioned. And, I have great auxilliary support from friends and family. The medical professionals I've seen so far have also been really good for me and with me.

I imagine that this sort of adjustment must be like any other big adjustment. I mean, when you have a child, everything changes. When you make a big career move or add a spouse or whatever, everything changes.

This is a change, a big change, but I'm usually pretty flexible and I certainly have strong incentive, so I'll adjust, am adjusting.

Good news is, it doesn't last forever. There are peaks and valleys in the activities and ultimately it should become a backdrop to my life. I think I can handle that. And of course, I am not handling it completely alone ;)

Thus, onward.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More after meetings with other docs, but news from Radiology sounds pretty good. Clinical Stage is T3 N0 M0. T3 basically means it's a pretty big area and into layers but not outside into other tissues. Good thing. N0 means it doesn't appear to have gotten into lymph nodes. M0 means it's not metastisized, ie, not spread to other organs.

Treatment is going to be radiation plus chemo. Radiation will be M-F for six weeks. Not sure about chemo specifics as yet but will be concurrent. Point of all that is to shrink and mostly eliminate tumor and cancer cells. Today's doc said radiation and chemo should get about 90-95% of it.

Then, three to six weeks after last radiation, giving time for healing, I'll go in for surgery. Almost redundant at that point but should pretty much guarantee we got it all.

Rad doc said my prognosis is really good. He said I should be able to look back in five years and say, "Yeah, I had cancer once."

Looks like I'll begin radiation on Monday. I told them I want to get this show on the road.

Incidentally, my new local buddy and I got along famously, like old friends. She's only a few years younger than I am. We enjoy each others' company. She decided to go with me for tomorrow's appointments too! Terrific deal. Wonderful good samaritan!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nicely rainy day today. Maybe that sounds strange, but I enjoy a good long steady rain now and then. The sound of infinite raindrops on all the leaves in the forest surrounding me is just marvelously soothing. I can almost feel the refreshment of such a drink Nature is getting. There's the occassional punctuation of rolling thunder in the distance and a heavier burst to the shower, but that too feels good. I like the raw power of a good thunderstorm. It energizes the air and somehow energizes me too. Bring it on! And in the meantime, soak me in the soft sound of a cool steady rain. *happy little sigh*

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Angels. I have those three meetings coming up next week. My GI's LPN is who delivered the news of my condition. She had already arranged for the three meetings. While on the phone, she asked if my husband might accompany me to the meetings. I explained that he's in NM at his new job. My folks are of course in KY, though they came in to be with me for the colonoscopy. I explained that I don't know another soul in NW AR.

So, the LPN asked me to allow her to escort me at least to the first meeting. She's off on Tuesday and said she would be honored to pick me up and go with me, serving as a second set of ears, etc.

I am thrilled and amazed. I could make the meetings myself, but to have another person, a relative stranger, offer themselves for this duty... it thrills my soul. She is an angel, sent to help me in my hour of need?

Not only was she infinitely compassionate with me over the phone, but she's going to spend her day off holding my hand for a surely tedious and likely stressful appointment?

This angel's name is Laschell. I hope she gains many brownie/karmic points for this. She most certainly deserves them.

I am grateful.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Well, they say "Into each life a little rain must fall." Appears my umbrella isn't working. Guess I'll be making good use of my silver lining detectors.

"When the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood..."
~ Henry V by William Shakespeare

...unto the breach...
Appointments next week with a radiologist, a surgeon, and an oncologist.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Had the colonoscopy. It really was a breeze since I was totally out of it, don't recall anything other than wanting to keep on sleeping in recovery. Felt all warm and quite pleasantly fuzzy, so I was a little perturbed that the nurse kept waking me up by asking if I was awake. hehe

The doc added some more stuff to my day: blood work, cat scan and chest xray. He'd taken some biopsies during the colonoscopy. Yes, that means he found something. I would have been rather disappointed if he hadn't. Good to know there IS some explanation for what I've been struggling with these last nine months. Yes, there is always the possibility of cancer but there is also a greater possibility that it's all very benign and just needs to be handled. Even if it's cancer, it's the sort that can be treated and in fact vanquished.

Once all the labwork and pathologies come back and the doc has a chance to review them (probably next week), then we'll know more about what's what and how to proceed.

I've already been told that I do not have diabetes, no infections are indicated, my potassium level is good, I'm a little anemic but not enough to cause any concern, and my chest xray was good.

In the meantime, I'm okay with whatever else may or may not be. I am not going to borrow trouble or burn bridges til I get to them ;) Until I have a definitive diagnosis and game plan options, I'm assuming the best.

All y'all who love me simply must take the same attitude. It's an order ;)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Insulation, drywall, garage door, exterior sheeting... More progress!

Master Bedroom door and windows out to backyard overlooking the pecan grove.

Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch... I think that's from an Abbott & Costello sketch, maybe Three Stooges?

Monday: clear liquids and abusive chemicals
Tuesday: colonoscopy

Not a fun week, but looking forward to having a fully functional body again.