Sunday, February 26, 2012

a little black rain cloud

I'm sure if you looked up our address on you would have looked at the doppler radar and seen this cloud. This cloud hovered over our house from 3am Thursday morning and finally blew away Sunday morning.

3am Thursday morning Lauren threw up. I was scheduled for my next chemo Thursday at 9:50. My mom came to help take care of the family. She woke up having an asthma attack. Joe stayed home from work and my mom took a trip to urgent care. Over the next two days, Joe caught Lauren's sickness and so did Jacob.

My second chemo treatment went better than I had expected. I was feeling very nervous on Wednesday. I had myself convinced the doctor's couldn't do anything for my nausea. Dr. Granger mixed me a new cocktail of meds and they worked great. I slept a lot. In my opinion that's not a bad thing.

My hair is falling out like crazy. It may be shaved tonight or tomorrow. Honestly I don't think I have the mental capacity to shave it tonight. I want to be like this woman who shaved her head and showed it off like a badge of courage. I think I might be getting there but not today.

My friend sent me these photos from her wedding today. This was a happy day. I remember feeling such joy for my friend. I sat at the table with friends and family telling stories, making jokes and certainly claimed the honor of the loudest table at the restaurant. I'll be honest when I saw that photo I wanted to go back to that day. I thought I was healthy that day.

Now my perspective has changed. Last chemo treatment I had 4 bad days and 11 great days. This week I had 3 bad days and I'll have 10 great days. I am seriously cherishing every great day. I cleaned my house the day before chemo feeling empowered with energy, I spent time with friends, I counted how many times my kids said "I love you mom."

I love how my religion has given me perspective on a larger scale. I know that this life is a test. I know that this life is probationary. I existed before this life and if I make correct choices I will continue to live with my family in the next life. I know that God has put me on this earth to learn. Every experience we have in this life can teach us and mold our character. My hope is that I can come out of this trial a better person than I started.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My week off

Lots of things have happened this week. I wanted to write them down so I don't forget. Overall, my health has been good this week. I still had some chemo related sickness on Monday and Tuesday but they were minor issues.

Today I feel excellent. Joe has been reading about the benefits of exercise and yoga during chemo. Reputable universities have done studies of chemo patients doing yoga. Studies show yoga is good for the mind and for the body. This morning I spent about 30 minutes on the treadmill and took an hour yoga class. I walked out of the gym feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.

I met with a genetic counselor. I will be tested to see if I have the breast cancer gene. It was a sobering meeting. I am scared about what this cancer might mean for Lauren. Regardless of the genetic testing outcome she will have to get her first mammogram when she is 20. It is good that she will be closely monitored. I am hopeful that when Lauren is 20 medical technology will give her more options for her body. I have read about a possibility for a breast cancer vaccine or other treatment options instead of chemo. I hope that Lauren never has to deal with cancer.

Speaking of the kids, we have been talking to them about my illness. I ordered a few excellent books off of Amazon.

The first book is easy to read. I caught Lauren reading it to herself. Both of these books put a positive spin on a parent with cancer.

Kate and I visited Hope's Boutique to shop for a wig and some headwear. Overall I was not very happy to be there. I'm not excited at all to loose my hair. I did have fun trying on wigs. I think I look pretty good as a blond (see photo below). When my real hair grows back I might consider dying it.

I have received so many encouraging texts and e-mails. Thank you so much for all of your love and support.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

this will be a perfect match

I am a big tennis fan. I love to play tennis and follow the professional game. I took this photo two years ago. Joe and I went down to Cincinnati to see Federer play. It was a thrill to see a professional match in person.

Now that I am through my first chemo treatment I'm decided to score this match. Me vs. cancer. Of course, cancer isn't going to get a point. I'll take the first 15 and cancer is stuck with love.

Right now it seems like it is going to take forever to beat cancer. I often feel overwhelmed at what is ahead this year. I am not a patient person but I can be patient if that means that I will live.

Chemo made me very tired and sick to my stomach. I have been under a delusion that this treatment might be easier than expected. I didn't realize that we are going to need some more help to get through these next few months. I feel so grateful to everyone who has helped us so far. I know that people are praying for our family. That means a lot to me. Keep the prayers coming. We are going to need them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

1st Day of Chemo

Day one is behind me! The treatment wasn't so bad. Joe sat with me and worked on his computer. I sat and played on my kindle and talked with a few people on the phone.

We came home and had a big lunch. I was exhausted so I went upstairs to take a nap. When I woke up my stomach was so upset. It was so upset I could not move or I knew I would vomit. I was that sick when I had kids so I kind of know the drill. Joe gave me some zofran (anti-nausea pill) and I waited for it to take effect. I felt a little better as the night went on but I was still not wanting to get off the couch. I called the doctor. He suggested that I take decadron (a steroid). This pill helped me to feel a bit more human. I went to bed at about 8 and now I'm up at 6 am.

My stomach doesn't feel too bad right now so I'm going to start eating and drinking slowly. That's another thing I learned from my pregnancy days. Eat small meals. Anyway, I have to go back to the Dr. today to get a white blood cell booster shot. My sister Katie is going to stay with me and Joe is back to work. Wish me luck today!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's Get Started!

If today was a typical Wednesday I would be sleeping right now. On Wednesdays I usually exercise, volunteer at the school, take Jacob to speech, take Lauren to ballet and end the day watch TV. Unfortunately today is not a typical Wednesday.

Today I will start Chemotherapy with Dr. Granger. We met with Dr. Shipiro at OSU yesterday. He was wonderful and the facility was beautiful. Dr. Granger seemed more personable and his office seemed to meet my needs. I'm sure I've made the right decision. Joe and I prayed about it last night and we both felt good about this decision. Right now I am ready to start this treatment. I know things will be hard. I know these first four treatments are going to make me sick. I'm ready to start because I'm ready to get this over with.

Over the last week I have talked with many breast cancer survivors. As I sit and listen to the stories I have felt so much compassion for these women. These women were faced with trials of infertility, marital issues, no support from friends or family and financial hardship. I couldn't help but feel grateful for my circumstances surrounding my breast cancer. I have two beautiful children. I have felt such an outpouring of love from family and friends. Joe and I have had a great marriage.

Before I had cancer I read a blog about a mom who had a baby sick with liver disease. I read this post about 5 times last summer. I even made Joe read it. I remember thinking to myself, I need to be more appreciative of what I have. I need to spend quality time with my kids.

This blog post reminded me of what should be important in life. Now more than ever I see the writer's point of view. I have a bucket list a mile long of important things I'm going to do when this is over. Nothing on that bucket list consists of material goods. Actually I do not want anything that costs money. My sister told me that Joe should buy something nice for me since I have cancer. I do not want diamonds, a new car or purse. I only want to be healthy. OK that's not entirely true. I wouldn't mind a Canon 5D.

Anyway, I have changed already. I put both of my kids to bed (Joe and I used to divide and conquor). I hug my kids until they stop hugging me. I tell Joe I love him before we go to bed. I now tell my parents I love them every time I talk to them on the phone. I'm content sitting with Jacob on the couch watching his stupid TV shows. I am patient with Lauren while I help her with her homework. I am content to stay at home and cook dinner.

I know that God has put us on this earth to learn and to grow. Do I think God gave me cancer? NO! There is a really good article that I read yesterday about a young man with cancer. You can find it here. Here is a great quote from the cancer survivor Daniel Hedlund "’I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for me. . . . What lessons He’ll teach me. How He’ll stretch me and school me. And most of all, what He will turn me into. Where I see myself going and who I see myself becoming are very different from where God sees me going and who He sees me becoming. But each step of the way, I can see that where He has taken me is a much better place than I ever thought of for myself."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hello Dr. Granger

As we moved closer and closer to my appointment on Friday my mind was racing. My most recent doctor's appointments have been filled with bad news. I could feel the anxiety coming back. My dad came Thursday night. It was nice to have him with us. He gave me a blessing. If you want more information on LDS blessings click here.I felt like I needed a blessing to help me make a good treatment decision. My blessing was wonderful and I felt that it helped me to be calm and listen to the doctor.

Friday morning we (Joe, my dad and Kate) met with Dr. Granger from Columbus Oncology. These Doctor's are associated with Riverside hospital and Dr. Lilly. I LOVE Dr. Lilly!

Dr. Granger was wonderful too. He spoke with us for two hours. He answered every question as throughly has possible. After our discussion he took us on a tour of his office. He introduced us to a few nurses and showed us a mural that Vern from HGTV painted.

One nice thing about his office is that it is a one stop shop. If I am sick they can treat me right in the office and I do not have to go to the hospital. If I do have to be admitted to the hospital I will probably have to go to Riverside since they have an oncology wing.

Here are some of the notes from the meeting

First cycle: 2 drugs at once:-Adriamycin & Cytoxan (called “AC”). This is given every 2 weeks for a total of
4 doses or 8 weeks.
2 weeks after 4th dose (week 8): switch to another chemo drug-Taxol
Taxol given every week for 12 weeks. Total chemo: 20 weeks

Philosophy on cancer:
Be aggressive
Be optimistic
Be honest

Other reasons to sick with Columbus Oncology are:
1. His office is close to our house. When I'm on Taxol I will have to go to the office twice a week for 12 weeks.
2. He personally manages all of his patients. I will not be working with a resident or another doctor unless I call on the weekend. They have a rotating on call schedule for the weekends.
3. He seems very qualified. You can read his bio here.He told us he left OSU because he wanted to focus on patient care.

Dr. Shipero at OSU is really going to have to bring his A game to get us to go to the James. I'm very curious to see what kind of treatment method Dr. Shipero recommends. I felt very calm and at ease at Dr. Granger's office. The crew I took with me agreed that Dr. Granger seems like a keeper.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

state of mind

Yesterday was wonderfully normal. I woke up, talked with Joe, got the kids ready for school, worked out, cleaned all three bathrooms, played with my children, enjoyed the beautiful weather and fixed dinner. I relished in the fact that I didn't have to go to any doctor's appointments or run any cancer related errands.

Yesterday was the first day I didn't have a cancer related meltdown. I haven't taken any Zanax since Saturday. I feel calm. I don't know why. Maybe it is because I'm able to sleep again. Maybe it is because I'm in denial about what is going to happen. Maybe I am feeling comfort from God. I'm not sure. I'm just happy that I'm not crying all of the time.

I talked with a friend that had cancer 3 1/2 years ago. She told me not to think in the future and keep your thoughts on today. I started that yesterday and I think it's helping me.

I couldn't help but think about how my life has changed in one week. I am a planner. I live by my calendar. Two weeks ago I was looking at vacation destinations for my 10th wedding anniversary. Two weeks ago I was setting up my photography work schedule. Three weeks ago I told a friend that Joe could coach Lauren's softball team this summer. Now all of my planning has come to a stop. I'm waiting to talk to the oncologists for a treatment plan. Once that is in place I can get back to planning again.