Saturday, August 29, 2009

Various Thoughts

It is the Saturday before chemo treatment #3. Kevin is in Chicago with Faith for the weekend. He has really wanted to go to a Chicago Cubs game with the kids. He decided that a weekend in Chicago with Faith would be a special event for the two of them. John Derrick and I are staying at home. Neither of us can decide what we want to do so we are going to hang out here. We have a potluck at church tomorrow so we are going to make a few things to take to potluck.

I handled chemo # 2 very well. The fatigue was not nearly as bad the first time. It was Sunday afternoon that I started feeling the most tired and I slept a lot that Sunday and most of the day Monday. By Tuesday, I felt better but still sleepy. I had no nausea which is such a blessing and my white blood count is fine. The only lingering side effects I have is that my taste buds are still messed up and weight gain.

The weight gain is annoying. I haven't gain that much weight but I have gained a few pounds. The nurses keep telling me that it is normal for breast cancer patients to gain weight. One of the nausea medicines is a steroid which I can telling is increasing my appetite so I feel like I am hungry all the time. But my taste has been altered a bit. Mouth sores are a side effect of chemo treatments so I feel like I have burnt my tongue and the top of my mouth. There are several foods that just don't taste good right now. I get hungry and will fix something to eat only to taste it and it doesn't taste the same but I am so hungry I eat it anyway and then I am disappointed because it just isn't the same.

I met with Dr. Tierney, my plastic surgeon, yesterday. He doesn't see the need to give me anymore fills right now. I have an excess amount of skin that he can work with and I am satisfied with the size I am now. I just need to be shaped up a little and he can do that when we have the exchange surgery. I have to get done with all my chemo treatments and wait awhile before that surgery. I will go back and see him at the end of October to see where I am at with treatments and then hopefully we will be able to schedule surgery. I REALLY am ready to finish this part because these tissure expanders are the most uncomfortable things ever.

Chemo # 3 is this coming Thursday. I feel like I just had the last treatment. Even though the treatments are not bad and the fatigue is the worse side effect, I really just don't want to go in Thursday. It is just that I lose so much time getting over the treatments and I miss being me.

The last chemo treatment will happen at the end of September and I will be done with that part of treatment. Yes!!! But I will still have more treatment that I have to go through. At this time, I am confused about what I will have to do after these chemo treatments. I talked to Beth, Dr. Raefsky's research nurse, about the next step and she is fairly confident that I will just breeze through the treatments. I think I have two different options to choose from both of which will require 12 weeks of another kind of drug. One drug is required by the clinical trial I signed up for and the other is for the standard treatment for women with my stage of breast cancer. When I go in Thursday, I am going find out exactly what my options are so I can make a better decision of what I am willing to go through.

One last thought, I do really miss my hair. Having no hair has not bothered the kids really. We joke about it sometimes and John Derrick likes trying to take my hats or scarves off around the house. I still have no regrets about not getting a wig. My head gets warm just wearing the hats so I feel like a wig would be miserable. Right now, my head gets too hot when I have something on my head and if I take it off, my head gets too cold. Missing my hair is going to be a deciding factor in what treatment plan I take. If the clinical trail requires a drug that will keep my hair from growing, I don't know if I can do that. I just miss having hair but I know it will come back and it will be great.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chemo # 2

I had chemo # 2 last Thursday. It went as well as it could go. There were no problems. I got done and went home to a nice clean house thanks to Kolleen Mangrum and Melissa Simpson. John Derrick was at Cooper's house so it was nice and quiet at home. Also, I had a visit from my cousin Laura Beth on Wednesday and she brought us a delicious supper that Kevin was able to quickly warm up and serve to us.

The fatigue has not been as bad so far. I did fall asleep Thursday afternoon and early that night. Friday, I was quite alert most of the day. I did have to go get my shot to help build by white blood count. I got to the doctor's office at 3:30 and didn't get to leave till 4:30 because they were short handed. By the time I got home, I was starting to get tired. Mom and Dad came and got the kids again to take them to the lake. They will have them till Sunday evening. Kevin and I had a lovely supper brought to us by Lori Knox. After I ate, I laid down and fell asleep.

This morning, Kevin and I both slept till 9:30 and I am feeling good right now. Since the kids are not here, I can take it easy all day. So I will sit here on the couch and read, watch TV and play on my laptop. Kai and Faye Grissom brought some potato soup yesterday for us to have today so food is taken care of.

... but those who hope in then Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Things Have Been a Little Hairy This Week

Right before my first chemo treatment, I had met with Dr. Raefsky. We talked about the side effects of the treatments I would be receiving. Of course one of the main side effects would be that I would lose my hair. I asked when that would happen and he said in about 2-3 weeks. As I was leaving the exam room on Monday after getting my white blood count checked, the research nurse, Beth, told me that probably the next time I was in I would be experiencing hair loss. We talked about it for a minute. She told me that my head would get very sensitive and I would notice my hair coming out.

Up to that day, I had not lost a single hair on my head. On Tuesday afternoon, my head started itching and I started noticing one or two hairs coming out if I ran my fingers through my hair. By Wednesday, my head was tingling and more hairs were coming out and I knew it was finally happening. On Thursday morning (exactly 2 weeks since my first treatment), I was getting small handfuls of hair and when I combed my hair, lots was coming out. Friday, when I washed my hair, I was afraid I would clog the drain with as much hair that came out. I could tell that my hair was very thin. I fixed my hair and tried not touch it because every time I did, I could pull out pieces of my hair. Kevin and I were going out on date and I wanted to look like myself one last time.

Even though I had my hair cut short at the beginning of the summer, it was very annoying to have all these hairs fall out everywhere. I would hang my head over the bathroom sink just so the hair would fall in one place. I thought I would end up choking on a hairball at night with the hair that fell on my pillow. So this morning, Kevin shaved my head. When I started noticing my hair coming out, I told him that he needed to shave my head and he did exactly that.

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. When I had first been told that I had cancer, I thought I did not want to lose my hair and I kept touching it and worrying about it. I have accepted that I was going to lose my hair. It is just part of what I have to go through. I realize now that it is going to grow back. My friends have given me so many beautiful caps and scarves that I think are so pretty. And plus, my head is shaped quite nicely.And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:30-31)

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Good News

I just received a call from Dr. Raefsky with some good news. I had decided to be tested to see if I carried the gene mutation for breast cancer and the results came back as negative for that genetic mutation. What wonderful news! This means that the female members of my family especially my daughter are not at a higher risk to develop breast cancer and that my cancer was probably not genetic.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Follow Up Visit

Today I had to go back to the doctor to have my white blood count checked and visit with the nurse practioner. My WBC came back great and the nurse was very impressed on how well I was doing.

My next chemo treatment will be on Thursday, August 13th. Since I know what to expect, I will be ready to combat the fatigue that is going to hit me. I will get babysitters for John Derrick and have meals planned and ready so I won't have to do anything except rest.

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (Psalm 71:14)