Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thursday, 1/25/07

I had lab work done today and both my red blood counts and my white blood counts are dropping quickly.

After the lab work was done, I had an appointment with my regular oncologist. Originally, the plan was for me to have chemotherapy treatments 3 weeks in a row, with the following week off, before starting the next round of 3 treatments. The first of my chemotherapy treatments consisted of the drugs, Taxol and low dose Carboplatin, and the following 2 chemo treatments consisted just of Taxol.

This was to be my week off, which Bruce really thought it was going to be, but judging by the way the onc. talked the last time I saw him (remember, he's also Bruce's onc. so I've known him a long time! LOL), I thought I was going to end up having chemotherapy today. I was right! The onc. was so pleased with my progress that he's decided to go after the cancer more aggressively! Not only did he decide that I should have chemo, today he ordered high dose of Carboplatin for me.

My onc is sending out a piece of my tumor to be tested for a special marker, which I want it to have! Only 10% of the people with the type of lung cancer I have have the marker though, so chances are that I don't have it. Please be praying that my cancer DOES has the marker! If it does, there's a special drug that I'd be able to get and it has a 90% remission rate!

While getting my chemo, I also got a shot to help boost my red blood count.

When we got home from the hospital, getting the mail was like Christmas Day! There were gifts, cards and gift cards! Bruce and I are overwhelmed by how much everyone is doing for us...we don't know how we'll ever be able to thank you all!

Now I know which treatment caused my confusion when I had chemo for the first time. It is the Carboplatin and it's doing it again! This evening, I am having trouble focusing and concentrating on any one thing. For example: I'm trying to type this for the blog, but I'm having trouble finding the right keys and my spelling is all wrong. I also keep forgetting what I'm doing!

Although I'm also having some of the common side-effects from both medicines, this difficulty in keeping my mind focused is the most frustrating one. According to a paper given to use by the hospital, mental confusion is one of the RARE side-effects of Carboplatin.

Again, please be praying that my cancer DOES have the marker!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednesday, 1/24/07

I have a port!

The hardest and longest part was the long wait before the surgery, because the operating room was so far behind. The actual surgery and recovery time only took 2 hours total.

I've been wide-awake ever since I woke up in the operating room! LOL

I'm sure at some point here it's going to start hurting, but so far I'm pain free. :)

About Talking

I miss being able to talk to my Mom! I won't tell you how old she is, but suffice it to say that I'm 55 years old and I'm the youngest of her 3 children. You would never know it to look at her though! My Mom is in such good condition physically, that she can pass for being 20 years younger than her actual age....Anyway, before all this happened, I used to talk to her on the phone a few times a week, but I haven't been able to talk to her since just before Thanksgiving. I miss talking to my Mom!

I also miss talking to my grandchildren! Although I love all my grandchildren, I used to talk to the children of my daughter, Chrissy, almost EVERY day. Three year old Gabe would ask me, "Is it rainin' there?'". Two year old Peyton would want to know, "Do you still hurt Nana?". (Her vocabulary and ability to understand things is advanced for her age). Now, when Chrissy calls, the children are told that they can talk to me but that I can't answer them back. They seem to understand, but I'm finding it difficult. When I hear them say, "I love you Nana!", I long to tell them back how much I love them too! Hearing their sweet voices on the phone, but not being able to answer them back, still brings tears to my eyes every time.

I also miss taking to my sister! If Sandi weren't my sister, I'd want her as my best friend. She lives on the other side of the country, so we don't get to see each other very often. In fact, the last time we saw each other was at the Memorial Service of our oldest sister, Willene, in 2002. We used to talk on the phone though, which as the commercials will tell you, is 'almost' as good as being there. I miss talking to my sister Sandi!

I also miss being able to talk on the phone to my two closest girlfriends, Diane and Brenda. The three of us have been friends since we were in high school and, although we all live in different states now, our friendship has only grown and deepened over the years. One of my first thoughts when the doctor said I had about a 50/50 chance of regaining the ability to talk, was the devastating thought that I may never be able to pick up the phone and call them again.

There are also others I miss talking to...Bruce, my parent in-laws, my children, my other grandchildren, other friends and my neighbors.

Those of you who know me in person know how talkative I usually am. Sometimes, I'd talk so much that even *I* would get sick of listening to me!

Ironically, I didn't say my first words until well after I had turned 2 years old. For awhile, my mother was concerned that I had a physical disability that would prevent me from ever being capable of speech. However, the doctor told her that I was just lazy and that the best thing to do would be not to give me anything I wanted unless I used words to ask for it. My family did as he suggested and I quickly found a voice. Ever since then the family joke has always been, "Once we taught Trudi how to talk, we couldn't get her to shut up!"

During the past couple of months, I've been thinking a lot about the subject of talking.

In the Bible, the power of speech is mentioned in several places. With the use of the wrong words, we can literally destroy someone's life. We can even kill someone with our tongue!

The Bible also clearly lets us know that gossiping is wrong. As a result, ever since I became a Christian, I've tried not to allow myself to be engaged in gossip. Although I have to admit that there are some words I've spoken that I do wish I could take back, I do think I've improved considerably in this area.

One area where I never improved though was in the ability to fully LISTEN to others. Like most talkative people, far too often I would find myself trying to formulate what my response to someone was going to be, before they had even finished talking. That isn't listening!

I can't help but wonder: How many important things have my husband, my mother, my father in-law, my mother-in-law, my sister, my children, my grandchildren, my friends and others said to me, that I missed hearing because I was too anxious to respond to them?

When the Lord restores my voice (which I truly believe He will), I pray He'll help me to cultivate the ability to speak less and to listen more!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday, 1/23/07

Although I woke up about 3 am yesterday, thanks to Decadron, I wasn't able to sleep all day. I finally fell asleep about 11:30 pm last night, only to wake up at 1 am. I lay in bed, wide-awake, for the next 3 hours and finally got up at 4 am. I am so thankful that, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I decided to give up caffeine. I can't imagine how much worse this sleeplessness would be, if I were still a coffee drinker!

I got my wig from the hairdresser at the Cancer Center today and I had my last radiation treatment.

After the treatment, the girls gave me a hug and a paper for my scrapbook. It has my name and today's date on it and it says:

The Purple Heart Award
For Courage and Strength Under Difficult Circumstances
We Honor You!

After my radiation treatment, it wasn't really worth making the 1.5 hour round-trip to come home and then go back to the hospital for my pre-op, so in between appointments we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. After eating, we picked up Missy's ashes from the veterinarian's. :(

I have to be at the hospital at 12:30 pm EST tomorrow and my surgery will probably be at about 1:30 pm. If any of you happen to think about me during the early afternoon, I'd appreciate a prayer and/or good thought.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday, 1/22/07

The Decadron is preventing me from sleeping much. I think most nights during the past week, I've only gotten a few of hours of sleep each night. I'm exhausted, but sleep won't come. So, I'm trying to rest in the Lord instead.

I had a radiation treatment this morning. Again, I prayed through the treatment and thanked God for healing me. What an awesome God we have!

After my radiation treatment, I had an appointment with the radiation oncologist. After he looked at my swollen feet and ankles, he said I have edema. He thinks it's being caused by the Decadron, which he's continuing to taper me off of. As of today, I only have to take Decadron twice a day.

The radiation onc. said my last radiation treatment will be tomorrow! Yeah!!!

After my last radiation treatment tomorrow, I have an appointment to get my wig. In the late afternoon, I have to have pre-op testing done. On Wednesday, I'm having the surgery to get a port put in. On Thursday, I have to have lab work done, then an appointment with my regular oncologist, followed by my chemotherapy treatment. After that though, I should only need to go to the hospital once a week for my chemotherapy treatments. In other words, starting next week, it won't seem like we're living at the hospital! Therefore, I'm removing the Wish List.

This evening, Pastor Dan Jones, and our friend, Dave, both brought us food. The amount of food our friends, neighbors and community is still bringing us, is amazing! Now that I have an appetite, and thanks to all the good food, I should gain back my lost weight soon, plus some!

Debby, your apple crisp was delicious and if you don't mind sharing it, I'd love to have your recipe!

Finally, this blog is now up-to-date. :)

Sunday, 1/21/07

The rest of my hair fell out today, so I'm now officially bald. I had more hair than this, when I was born! LOL

My ankles and feet have been swollen the past couple of days. I know that's something they always check for, so I'll be sure to tell the radiation oncologist about it tomorrow.

Our friend, Ted, brought us food and money from the pastor of the church at the end of our road, and from some of the congregation. Thank you Pastor Dan Jones and CCC!

Saturday, 1/20/07

What Bruce has feared would happen, happened today. I fell!

I didn't fall because I was weak or dizzy, but just because my leg muscles gave out on me and they wouldn't hold me up when I tried walking from the living room to the kitchen.

If any of my wonderful friends from the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Support message board that are reading this have suggestions for me, please let me know. Although Bruce has experienced extreme weakness with his own cancer, it was associated more with low blood counts, than with muscle deterioration.

I spent part of today working on my Hospital Scrapbook and periodically checking in on the Cyber Crop at Memory Book Inspirations. I also rested a lot, although, thanks to the high doses of Decadron that I'm on, I'm unable to really sleep.

I received a huge bouquet of flowers from Bruce's aunt and uncle today, as well as a generous donation from them towards our medical bills. Thanks Laurice and Bill! We love and miss you guys and we wish we could hug and thank you in person!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friday, 1/19/07

The muscles in my legs have wasted so much during the past few weeks, that I can't really walk on my own. When I'm at the hospital, I have to be pushed in a wheel chair. At home, I can barely get from the living room to our bedroom, without assistance from Bruce.

Since the only appointment I had at the hospital today was for my radiation treatment, we were in and out of there pretty quickly. Therefore, we decided to go to Wal-Mart afterwards. Part of why I wanted to go was so we could get some birdseed for our bird feeder (we haven't been feeding the birds so far this winter, but now that everything is covered with ice, they are looking for food), but I also thought doing a bit of walking with the assistance of a shopping cart, might help to start strengthening my leg muscles. I think it did help because, by the time we got home, the muscles in my legs were throbbing!

In the forums at Memory Book Inspirations, we're having a Cyber Crop this week-end. As a result, I spent some time scrapbooking this afternoon. I'm making a Hospital Scrapbook with pictures of my visitors, flowers, gifts and more. I'm sure it'll take me awhile to do, but once it's finished, I'll put pictures of it online and will give a link to it.

This evening, I mostly just rested my aching legs.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Thursday, 1/18/07

I woke up about 4 am today (Decadron will do that to you). When I came out into the living room, Missy was even worse than last night. She had obviously had a lot of diarrhea and vomiting during the night, and it was pretty much pure blood that came out both ends. She just lay sleeping for awhile, before she gave out a cry of pain. When she did that, I went and woke up Bruce and he petted Missy and told her how much he loved her, until he felt her heart stop. Our beloved Missy passed away at approximately 5:15 am today.

My first appointment of the day, was with a surgeon. I'm going to be having day surgery next week, to have a port put in. The nurses will use the port as an access, to do blood draws and to give me my intravenous chemotherapy through. I'll be having the surgery on Wednesday.

After I saw the surgeon, I had lab work done and then I received chemotherapy. Bruce and I took the first VCR tape from the series, Matthew: The Visual Bible, to watch while I was getting my chemo. However, I ended up falling asleep and when the chemo was done, the nurse had to wake me up. I was so tired, I just wanted to stay there and continue sleeping!

Later in the day, I had a radiation treatment.

When we got home from the hospital, Bruce took Missy's lifeless body to the veterinarian's, to have her cremated. The ground is too frozen to bury her right now, so we'll bury her ashes in the spring. This is a very sad day for us.

In a show of support for me, Brittany shaved her head today. She says she's going to keep it shaved, until my hair starts growing back in. When mine starts growing in again, she'll start letting hers grow again. What a sweet gesture! Thank you Brittany!

Wednesday, 1/17/07

Our power finally came back on, late last night. We were without electricity for approximately 24 hours.

I've been put on antibiotics, because it seems that I might be developing pneumonia.

When I went for my radiation treatment today, there was a very thick envelope waiting for me there, but the techs said they didn't know who it was from. After my treatment, I opened the envelope to discover a book of prayers inside. It was from Beth, in the lab. Thank you Beth!

Since the radiation treatment was the only appointment I had at the hospital today, afterwards we made a quick stop at a store so I could buy a hat to cover my cold, balding head!

When we got home, we discovered that friends, Galen and Sam, had brought us some firewood in case we lose our electricity again. What a blessing!

Also, in an email, I received notice of a 6 month gift subscription to NetFlix. I own an online scrapbooking store, so I'm a member of ScrapBiz. Never would I have expected ScrapBiz owner, Kim, to send me a get well gift though, especially such a generous one. Thanks Kim and ScrapBiz Mavens!

Now for some really sad news. When we got home our Beagle, Missy, was violently ill. She had been having diarrhea and had been vomiting, and she was in obvious discomfort. Bruce took her to the vet, who wasn't sure he could help her. He gave Bruce several medicines for her to try, and Bruce brought her back home. This evening, Missy is still having diarrhea and vomiting, and now there's quite a bit of blood in it. :(

Tuesday, 1/16/07

Due to the ice storm, we lost our power last night. Thankfully, we have a woodstove and we had enough firewood to keep us warm. There are 27,000 people in our county without power.

I went for my radiation treatment today and afterwards, I had an appointment with the radiation oncologist. He's so pleased with the fact that I don't have any brain swelling, that he's going to start tapering me off of the Decadron. I only have to take 3 pills a day now, instead of 4.

Next, I had an appointment with the hairdresser at the Cancer Center. My wig should be in, a week from today.

I then saw the nutritionist. She was pleased to learn that I'm finally able to eat. So am I! :)

After we left the hospital, Bruce had an appointment with the dentist. The dentist was able to temporarily "sort of" fix the broken partial denture, but Bruce is going to have to have an entirely new partial denture made.

All of the staff at the dentist told me how they were praying for me, and a newer nurse that I hadn't met before, told me she was going to ask her church to start praying for me.

When we got home. we were still without electricity. Also, our little dog was vomiting! :(

My Wish List

I feel very guilty posting a Wish List at all, especially since so many people have done SO much for us already. Some family members and close friends have been asking what they can do for us though, so....

The Tracfone cards are so we can use our cell phone, when we're at the hospital.

As for the fast food gift cards, we're usually at the hospital around lunch time, and on some days, we're still there around supper time, so these would really help us out. The fast food restaurants listed, are all ones that are near the hospital.

Monday, 1/15/07

The ice storm was even worse today, so my radiation treatment was cancelled. With the terrible road conditions, they said it wasn't worth risking my life to get there.

Our drive-way was covered with an snow/ice mixture, so neighbor, Eric, plowed our drive-way for us! Thanks Eric!

Our other neighbor drove in the ice storm to bring our repaired car home to us. Thank you so much for taking charge of the car situation for us Galen!

Someone "mysterious" (we're pretty sure we know who you are) paid for approximately 1/3 of the cost of the car repairs. WOW! Thank you!!!

All of this reminds me of the quote, "Friends are God's way of taking care of us."

Thank you God, for sending us such good friends to take care of us!

My hair fell out today. Not ALL of it, although I sure expected to be bald when I got out of the bath tub. It was pretty gross to see all that hair floating on the water! Yuck!

Now for some really good news...I held down solid food for the first time today! Of all things, it was Bruce's Lasagna! I was also able to hold down a piece of the delicious Carrot Cake that my friend, Michelle, made for me. Yeah!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sunday, 1/14/07

We had an ice storm today, and during the storm, our son-in-law had to drive out to pick up the car they had been lending us. Again, Chrissy and Lou, thank you for lending us your car!

Saturday, 1/13/07

Since it's the week-end, I don't have any treatments today, which is fine by me. I've finally been able to hold down some liquids today, and the broth from Chicken Noodle Soup (minus the chicken and noodles) is quickly becoming my best friend. It's staying down and reminds me of when I was little and how it was my favorite comfort food when I was sick. Linda, thank you for providing me with so much Chicken Noodle Soup!

Friday, 1/12/07

While receiving my radiation treatment today, again I prayed the prayer about Christ strengthening me, and again, the treatment went easier than normal!

After the radiation treatment, I saw the nutritionist. She gave me some drink mixes to try, to see if I can hold them down. I'm still struggling to hold down liquids and I have had NO solid food in ages.

Books on my Night Table

The following books are ones that are currently on my Night Table and that I'm reading:

100 Questions & Answers about Lung Cancer
By: Karen Parles, MLS
Joan H. Schiller, MD

What to Eat When You Don't Feel Like Eating
By: James Haller

Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul
101 Stories of Courage and Inspiration from Those Who Have Survived Cancer
By: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen
Patty Aubrey & Nancy Mitchell, R.N.

Cancer Has Its Privleges
Stories of Hope and Laughter
By: Christine Clifford

King James Bible
By: God

Christ The Healer
By: F.F. Bosworth

Daily Inspiration for the Purpose Driven Life
A Rick Warren Product

Thursday, 1/11/07

When I went for all my appointments today, the psychologist at the Cancer Center saw Bruce and me sitting in the waiting room, so he came over to talk to us. He was surprised to learn that *I* was the patient, as are all the nurses, doctors, lab techs and secretaries that we see at the Cancer Center these days.

For those of you who don't know, my husband, Bruce, was diagnosed with a cancer of the lymph system over 20 years ago. His cancer was at an advanced stage when he was diagnosed and it's an incurable form of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, so we were told he could die within a month, and at most, he probably only had 2 years to live. Although Bruce still has cancer and isn't even technically in a remission at the moment, next month (February), it will be 21 YEARS since his diagnosis!

Anyway, Bruce started going to the Glens Falls Cancer Center approximately 11 years ago. Since I attend most of Bruce's appointments with him, everyone there is used to seeing me in the role of a Caregiver, not as a Patient. It's strange for all of us to have me being the sick one.

I saw my regular oncologist today and he said if I can't start holding down fluids and solids, I'm going to have to be admitted to the hospital for artificial feeding. Dreary thought!

Since I was dehydrated, I was given extra fluids along with my chemotherapy today. The chemotherapy went uneventfully, except the room I recieved it in was freezing. The next time, I'll have to remember to bring some extra warm clothing with me! Also, to bring some VCR tapes to watch while I'm getting my chemo. They have a VCR machine there, but not much of a selection for tapes.

While I was having my blood drawn today, our favorite phlebotomist, Beth, shared with me a prayer that she had prayed the night before. It was based on the Bible Verse:

I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.
Philippians 4:13

Beth hadn't been feeling well, so she was praying that verse. While she was praying, it occurred to her that our bodies really ARE made to be strengthened and healed, so she shared that with me.

I took that prayer with me to my radiation treatment, and while getting my treatment, I thanked Christ for allowing the radiation to destroy the cancerous cells in my brain, and for protecting and healing my irritated throat, esophagus and stomach. I thanked Him for strengthening my healthy cells and body, so I could heal. For the first time, I didn't mind getting the radiation treatment!

After coming home from the hospital after a very long day, there was a HUMONGOUS basket filled with goodies at the house, waiting for me. It was sent to me by my online friends from the forums at Memory Book Inspirations and from the Golden Scrapbookers Group. You ladies are the best! Thank you!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wednesday, 1/10/07

After I had my radiation treatment today, I had an appointment with the nutritionist. She gave me some anti-nausea lollipops to try. She also gave me some hints on ways to add protein to my diet, if and when I'm able to start eating. Right now, I'm still struggling with holding down liquids, forget solids!

You know the expression, "When it rains, it pours"? Well, I guess you could consider this a soaking wet day!

First off, Bruce's partial denture fell apart. And, I do mean FELL APART! It was almost as if it just disintegrated! Like the poor guy doesn't have enough problems and worries, without that happening right now.

Our Beagle also got lost on this day! She's an indoor dog, because she has a lot of health problems of her own. Apparently, when we left for the hospital today though, she somehow managed to get down into the cellar and out the garage door, without us even realizing it. It wasn't until we got home from the hospital later in the day, that we realized she was missing.

It was a cold day, so were concerned, and as I said, she too has health problems. Bruce called any of our neighbors that were home, to ask them to keep an eye out for her. He also called the local dog officer, to report her missing. Then he drove up and down the area roads, for what seemed like an eternity, calling for her. We were both devastated and were beginning to lose hope that we'd find her in time. As Bruce was giving up the search though and coming home, he thought to look in our neighbor's yard one last time. There she was!

She was shivering from the cold, the pads of her feet looked like they might be frost bitten, and one pad looked like it was bleeding, so Bruce took her to the vets. She checked out OK though! Thank you Jesus for protecting our dog!

Tuesday, 1/09/07

I saw the radiation oncologist again today, when I went for my radiation treatment. Since I'm still unable to hold down anything except some crushed ice, he gave me yet another prescription for anti-nausea medicine. It didn't work! As soon as I took it, I vomited violently! :(

Monday, 1/08/07

Before my radiation treatment, I had an appointment with the radiation oncologist. It turns out I have thrush, so he gave me some medicine for that. Hopefully, the medicine will make it easier for me to drink and hold down liquids. He also changed my anti-nausea medicines.

Our friend and neighbor, Galen, arranged to have our car towed on this date, to a car repair shop. He took care of all the arrangements, so Bruce wouldn't even have to think about it.

The outpouring of love and assistance from our family members, in real life friends, neighbors, churches and online friends, is SO humbling! I don't know how we will ever be able to express our love and gratitude to all of you! Please know we love you and appreciate you!

Sunday, 1/07/07

I still can't hold down liquids, not even popsicles will stay down! The ONLY liquids I'm able to hold down at all are crushed ice chips. Out of concern, Bruce called the oncologist. They wanted me to go to the Emergency Room. I didn't go.

Our daughter and son-in-law lent us one of their cars, so I'll be able to get to my radiation appointments during the coming week. Thanks Chrissy and Lou!

Our 17 year old has a car, but the brakes were broken on it. Our friends, Len and Dave, came and spent the day fixing them! Wow! What great friends we have! It wasn't until after the brakes were fixed though, that we discovered the car heater doesn't work. Hmmm. Not too good, considering we live in the North Country & it's winter time! Ah well, at least in an emergency, we have that car as a back-up now!

Friends and neighbors have been delivering food to the house, ever since I was hospitalized. Although I didn't see it while I was in the hospital, Bruce kept telling me about the vast amounts of food that kept arriving and feeding everyone that was staying here. And, since I've been home from the hospital, more food has been arriving! Today, our friend, Ted, brought a bunch more food for us. He also brought us an envelope of money, collected from the small church at the end of our road. Thank you CCC!

Saturday, 1/06/07

I can't drink liquids! I have a metal taste in my mouth, all liquids taste terrible to me, and every time I try to drink anything, or any time I cough, sneeze or brush my teeth, I vomit. This is SO different than what I expected treatment associated nausea and vomiting to be like! I've always thought of myself as having a strong stomach (I've raised 4 children and have cleaned up after pets all my life!), so I didn't expect this.

Again, I was very tired, weak and had trouble concentrating today, so I slept most of the day. I hated that I was sleeping so much, because my daughter from out-of-state and her two little ones left for home Saturday evening. I wish I could have enjoyed their visit more while they were here, but I hope my daughter knows just how much I appreciate her coming and everything she did for us while she was here. Love you Kelli!

Our car broke on this date! Yikes!!! Without a car, how will I get to my daily radiation treatments?

Friday, 1/05/07

On Friday, January 5th, I was released from the hospital! Yeah!

I was very tired, weak and had trouble concentrating on anything, so I ended up sleeping most of the day.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thursday, 1/04/07

On this date, I had my second radiation treatment. This time, it only took about 5 minutes, but it sure did seem like a LONG 5 minutes! To give you an idea of how tight the radiation mask is, my husband could still see the grid marks from the mask engraved in my face, for about 3 hours after the treatment!

I also had my first chemo treatment on this date. Not only was it uneventful, but I actually enjoyed receiving it. As I watched the chemo dripping into my arm, I visualized how it was attacking and killing all the cancer cells.

My daughter, Kelli, has bought me a laptop so I can try to access the Internet from my hospital room. Unfortunately, no one at the hospital seems to know how to get it connected though. :(

My son-in-law, who is currently at sea serving in the United States Navy, called my hospital room at 3 am his time! Scott, I know you can't read this right now, but when you get home, I hope you'll realize how much that phone call meant to me!...And BTW, your precious baby son who you haven't had the opportunity to meet yet, is adorable! :)

Wednesday, 1/03/07

On this date, in my journal I wrote...

Woo Hoo! Finally! I'm going to have my radiation mask made today, and I might get to have my first radiation treatment. I'm anxious, nervous and impatient! The thought of radiation to my brain is scary, but I'm looking forward to stopping the cancer in it's tracks ASAP.

Later in the day, I wrote...

Having my radiation mask made was NOT the thrill that I expected it to be! The process took almost an hour and I had a panic attack during it. I had to lay on a table and then they fit this metal mask over my face and my head was clamped down by the mask. I probably would have been scared normally, just because the mask was so tight and having your head clamped down is pretty scary. What made it worse for me though, is that I'm unable to talk because of the paralyzed vocal chord. I didn't know if anyone was even around, and if something awful happened, I couldn't call for help. So far, it's the worse ordeal I've gone through...even worse than the Bronchostomy.

Later in the day, I had my first radiation treatment. That only took about 10 minutes, but it still wasn't pleasant. :(

I received flowers from two of my friends in the forums at Memory Book Inspirations, I received some more cards and gifts, and I had quite a few visitors.

When I got back to my room after my radiation treatment, there was a HUGE bouquet of flowers from my sister waiting for me. Everyone who has walked into the room has commented on it, and one nurse told me she thinks it's the largest bouquet she's even seen. I think my sister and her husband must have mortgaged their house, to pay for it! Thank you Sandi and Gene!

I also slept a lot during the day today. I think the radiation ordeal took a lot out of me!

Tuesday, 1/02/07

I collect Eeyores, so two pairs of the pajamas I was given as gifts for the hospital, have Eeyore on them. On one pair of the jammies it says, "Another Day. Another Bother". This seemed like a fitting expression for what I was going through, so when we learned that I had mets to the brain, we said, "Another Day. Another Bother".

TODAY was different though! I had the bone scan done on this date and the cancer is NOT in my bones! Yeah! Another day, but not another bother! :)

I also saw the hairdresser at the Cancer Center on this date and ordered a wig. I've been told that the radiation will definitely make me lose my hair, and probably the chemo will as well. That's OK!

When I got my first paying job as a teenager, I splurged and bought myself a wig. It was styled like my own hair was at the time, so when I didn't want to fuss with my hair, I just wore the wig. Many times since then, I've thought it would be nice to have a wig for bad hair days, or spur-of-the-moment plans after a day of working in the garden. Now, I'm going to have one!

The color of the wig I have on order is a perfect match for my own and I actually look forward to not having to bother with my own hair for awhile! Unfortunately, it probably won't be here before I lose all my hair though, so if you see me around town wearing a hat, you'll know why! :)

I also had lots more visitors on this date. Thank you to everyone who visited me while I was in the hospital! You can't even begin to imagine how much you lifted my spirits!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dr. Peter Ferrera

Dr. Peter Ferrera was my attending doctor at the Emergency Room on Dec. 28, 2006. Both Bruce & I were immediately impressed by Dr. Ferrera's efficiency and professionalism. He kept reappearing into my room throughout the afternoon and evening, to keep us informed about what tests were being ordered, which doctors he had consulted, and what the tests results were showing so far.

When it came time for Dr. Ferrera to inform us that it appeared I had advanced lung cancer, he delivered the bad news with the utmost compassion and empathy.

After I was admitted to the hospital, we assumed we'd have no further contact with Dr. Ferrera. To our surprise however, he came to my hospital room to visit with me early New Year's Eve, to offer support and to see if we had any unanswered questions.

He stayed a long time, asking about my treatment plan, reassuring me that I was in good hands, and expressing genuine concern for me. When he left, he told us he was going to be going away on vacation with his daughter in a couple of days, but that he'd try to get up to see me again before he left.

The night of New Year's Day, Dr. Ferrera called my hospital room. He explained that he had planned on visiting me again, but due to all the accidents caused by the drunks on the icy roads on New Year's Eve, he was exhausted and New Year's Day was just as bad in the ER for him. He wanted to apologize for not getting up to see me again and to check in with me one last time, before he left on his vacation.

Over the years, we've had many experiences with Emergency Room doctors, but we have never felt in more competent, caring, and professional hands than this.

I would like to publicly thank Dr Ferrera, and to recognize him as being an exceptional emergency room physician!

Monday, 1/01/07

I had quite a few visitors today, which I really enjoyed despite the fact that I was very tired all day.

Friends and family members keep calling my hospital room, to get updates from Bruce on my condition. Flowers, gifts, get well cards, emails and baskets of food have also been arriving daily. I am humbled by the expressions of love I'm receiving from so many!

While I was resting today, the oncologist came into the room and I overheard Bruce ask him the million dollar question..."What is the official diagnosis and prognosis?". I knew it was a question that Bruce needed to ask.

The doctor told him I had incurable, inoperable, stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer with known metastases to the adrenal gland and to the brain. It was possible that the cancer had also spread to other body parts, so a bone scan would be done the following day. For insurance reasons, a PET scan couldn't be done until I was released from the hospital, to see if it is in any other organs.

Treatment Plan: Daily total brain irradation treatments (with Saturdays and Sundays off), Decadron 4 times a day, IV chemotherapy done weekly with the drugs Taxol and Carboplatin, and supportive medicines for pain, nausea, thrush, and other side-effects of treatment.

Prognosis: If treatment is successful, I have 12 months to 18 months to live.

Sunday, 12/31/06

This is some journaling that I wrote on this day, while in the hospital...

It will probably be a boring day in the hospital today. Not only is it a Sunday, but it's New Year's Eve and there's only a ghost staff on duty.

I doubt I'll get any visitors either, because of it being New Year's Eve day and because bad weather is in the forecast for later. It's too bad because I'm feeling pretty good today and would love to enjoy some company!

I was started on Decadron last night (I'll have to take it 4 times a day...it's for the swelling in my brain) and it feels like it's helping to clear my head. My abdominal pain is also gone!

Since it's New Year's Eve, should I make some New Year's Resolutions? Or, considering the situation, should I call them Life Goals instead? If I were to die in 6 months, what would I want to have accomplished with my remaining time? I guess it's time to start prioritizing!

Later in the day I wrote...

I had visitors today! An ABUNDANCE of visitors throughout the day!

Of course, my husband, Bruce, has been by my bedside almost continuously, and three of my daughters, their closest friends, my grandchildren, and a son-in-law have been regulars in my hospital room.

Today I also had friends visit though! Good friends, neighbors, Bible study companions, pastors, and members from various churches we've attended. Apparently, Bruce got the word out that I wanted company and everyone responded, despite it being New Year's Eve!

At one point, a circle of Christian friends surrounded my bed, holding hands, and jointly praying for me. I was surrounded by a circle of love, the love of Jesus. What a blessing to have Christian friends who are strong in their faith!

Later in the evening, my oldest daughter from out-of-state arrived with a granddaughter that I hadn't seen since spring, and with my 3 month old grandson that I hadn't met yet. He's adorable!

Due to it being New Year's Eve and the roads being icy, Bruce decided to spend the night at the hospital with me. The poor guy slept on a very uncomfortable chair, but at least he was safe.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 12/30/06

I had an MRI done of the brain today and unfortunately, it showed that I have mets to my brain. Not in a good spot either, in the lower cranium.

Thanks to pain killers and sedatives, I slept most of the day.

Friday, 12/29/06

On Friday I agreed to have a Bronchostomy done, which was huge for me!

After my Dad coded 8 times and spent a week on life support, I told Bruce and Chrissy that if I ever coded, I was willing to have paddles used on me and I was willing to have medicines used, but under NO circumstances did I ever want a tube placed down the back of my throat and/or nose!

While my Dad was on the vent, the nurses kept trying to reassure me that because of the sedatives he was on, he wouldn't remember anything later on. That did NOT reassure me at the time though. In the moment, he WAS aware of the vent and he struggled with it, and it was emotional agony for me to watch him like that.

I shocked myself when I agreed to have the Bronchostomy done, especially knowing I would be awake during it. The lung doctor's arguments for it were pretty convincing however, and I had already decided that whatever the doctors wanted me to do, to help me live, I would go along with.

The Bronchostomy showed that I have a very large tumor mass in my left lung and a smaller tumor in the windpipe to my right lung. It also showed that what I had been calling "laryngitis", is not really laryngitis. What I have is a paralyzed vocal chord, caused by enlarged lymph nodes pressing on a nerve!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thursday, 12/28/06

On December 28, 2006, I was still having a lot of pain in my upper abdomen, so I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician with the hopes that he'd give me a prescription for some stronger pain medication. Instead, he sent me directly to the Emergency Room to have tests done. I spent most of the afternoon and night in the ER, having many tests done.

Receiving the preliminary diagnosis late that night was almost surreal. My husband, my grown daughter, Chrissy, and Chrissy's best friend, Amy, were at the hospital with me. A friend of ours, Len, was also coincidentally there for a problem of his own. His gurney was right behind mine when it was time for us to have our CT scans done, and while we awaited our test results his bed was parked across from mine so we could wave and smile at each other.

When the emergency room doctor came in to tell me and my husband that he had gotten back most of the test results and he had quite a bit to discuss with us, it was obvious that the news wasn't good. We asked Chrissy and her friend to wait in the hall, and I was conscious of our friend watching my husband and I as we heard the news.

When the doctor told me I was being admitted to the hospital with the possible diagnosis of inoperable Stage 4 Lung Cancer, which had spread to the adrenal glands and had possibly spread outside of the chest cavity, I never cried a tear. On the contrary, I felt a peace and contentment that surpassed all understanding.

I am a Christian and I have no fear of death. If anything, I actually look forward to the day that I will spend all of eternity in heaven with my Lord and Savior!

I think the "method" of how one will die often holds more fear for many of us, than death itself. That night, even that fear was lifted for me however. I had been in so much pain when I went to the hospital, but when I was given some good pain medicine all the pain disappeared. I remember guiltily thinking to myself that if they kept me doped up until I slipped away, dieing could actually be pleasant!

When I looked at my loving husband however, thought about how difficult it would be for my children, my mother and my sister to lose me, and considered my grandchildren who think I'm the best person in the world, I realized that I had to fight for my family. I also felt the sense that God still had more that He wanted me to do in my life, and that I would be letting Him down if I gave up too easily.
I put my life in the Lord's hands and silently told Him that His will was my will.

My husband called each of our grown children that live in the area and had them come to the hospital, so we could give them the news in person. Of course, they each cried, but hopefully my smile and inner peace reassured them than their Mom isn't going to give up without a fight.

Some Previous Posts

Those of you who were already reading my blog, Seeds and Weeds of My Life, know that I was having some health problems towards the end of the year. Below are a few of posts I made on the subject, if you'd like to re-read them, or haven't yet read them.

Some people will do anything! - posted January 12, 2007
Update About My Christmas - posted December 27, 2006
Doctor Appointments - posted December 22, 2006
Health Update - posted December 16, 2006
Sunday Update - posted December 10, 2006
Grippin' and Gripin' - posted October 15, 2006