LIVESTRONG:

And in June 2013 we are back in the revolving door of doctors, this time for my heart. So the focus has shifted, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.


LIVESTRONG: I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. WE WILL WIN!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well.

WARNING:
Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Some Good Days; and Some....

So, I've had a few days of really feeling good, almost normal. Good stamina, but not sleeping through the night. Guess I should have not been so cocky in thinking this was going easier than expected. Because today I took that step backwards. You know; two steps forward, and then one step back.

I awoke very early again, but then was in a funk, depressed, and very tired all day, napping off and on. I did make the walk to the mailbox later in the day, which felt good. And made a feeble attempt at some knitting and weaving amongst watching my final episode of Masterpiece Theatre. A bit of the queasy stomach, low appetite, and fuzzy head seems to have reappeared too. Then there was the feeling of why me, why cancer; why, why???? So it is one day at a time, as they say. Just roll with it.

I'm blaming the hair loss on some of my mood; but in reality I'm sure it is just the chemotherapy treatment in general. The hair is still here on my head, much to my dismay. But it is everywhere else as well, and very annoying. It still is not coming out in clumps yet, but is quite thinner than normal. But if you didn't look too close, you might not even notice I was starting to lose it.

I'm so looking forward to Sarah's weekly visit tomorrow. If I'm up to it, we will play with fiber, and maybe even do some dyeing. Then Donna arrives Wednesday, and we both can't wait to see each other, hug, and spend some time together. I have a feeling she will be able to revert back to her hair stylist days and help me a bit with this head of retreating hair. Thank Goodness!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Well, Not Exactly Tomorrow...

That is the hair.  as mentioned in my last post.

It is not "gone", but it is coming out in brushfulls, but not clumps. Actually, it just looks a little thinner and shorter. But it shouldn't be much longer before ~ Bald is Beautiful!

I've felt pretty good since the 2nd chemotherapy treatment on Thursday, but not sleeping well at all. Waking at 2:30 am one morning, then 4:30am the next, whithout going back to bed or napping just seems not right. I've been kind of jittery too. I wonder if the hair falling out has any correlation on how I am feeling.  But that seems to have changed  today after I went out to meet up with my spinning gals for part of the day. I was getting kind of anxious around 2:30pm and left a bit early, even though it was a very enjoyable day at Susan's, who is a wonderful host. These gals are all so supportive and such great fiber buddies. But by the time I got home, I was ready for a good hour nap; which I promptly took. Now Mark and I have finished dinner and watched the Academy Awards . And I am about ready to turn in for the day.

But not before sharing with you just how run down and tired I do look. And how much hair is coming out. I'll give it a day or so and I bet it will be time for the old hair clippers to come out. Bet we will be having a head shaving party real soon.

           Before 1st Chemo.       Today - hair thinning after 2nd chemo.       Spinning my hair on a spindle.

So.... I've decided to give it a spin before I get to the head shaving stage. Eat your heart out Rocky!

And as Michelle said, the mystery will be as to how it comes back ~ curly, straight, gray, brown??? At least my dilemma of when or how to revert back to my "natural" color has now been solved. Lemons? Make lemonade!! :-)

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hair Today; Gone Tomorrow...

... Right on schedule -- DARN!   

The doc said it would happen right about the second chemo treatment, which was 2 days ago.

Well, I still have a head of hair, but it is thinning pretty darn quick. Just this afternoon I brushed my hair with a clean brush. It came out full of hair, like you would find after a month of not cleaning your brush. Then I was on the phone and pulled my hand away to find about 20 full strands stuck between the phone and my hand. So it is happening..... 

The itchy scalp has the slight feeling of ants crawling on my head, as my friend Joan told me was her experience. So dear Donna may not make it out in time to help me with this transition. But Mark is good at shaving his head, so I know he can do mine. She will need to help me learn how to be creative with a scarf, or help me paint my head, or something fun and silly, as we sisters can be.

Stay tuned.

But the good news is that the side effects from this second chemotherapy treatment have been very mild and manageable. Now the hair...... Damn it, anyway!!!!

I guess it is all part of the journey and just another way for me to come out stronger.



Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Feeling Darn Good Right After Chemo!

I like this!!!
So It's Saturday morning and I know some are wondering how the 2nd chemo treatment went. BTW, it is called the "Infusion Center", officially. So now I know!!! :-)

And actually, this second chemo went quite well, I must say so far. I'm not sure if it is some of the things I'm doing proactively, or just my body getting better equipped to the meds I'm on. But that evening after treatment was not bad. No seasickness, or hungover feeling. Just a slight headache. I did take my anti-nauseau home meds before going in for treatment, and then the nurse suggested I take two tylenol while there right before the Cytoxan drug part of this AC cocktail I get, and both of these probably helped too.

The bugger is I slept only 5.5 hours that night from 9pm-2:30 am. That had me a bit miffed. But heck, I can deal with that. I hoped to catch a nap on Friday after our trip in the morning for the Neulasta shot, but I just wasn't that sleepy. Last night I took two of the Atavan and it helped a bit -- I slept from 10-4:30am. So that was a bit better. I'm sure it will catch up with me sooner or later, though. I'm predicting a good nap this afternoon.  :-)

I was able to lay low and get a scarf going on my loom yesterday, a nice plaid of green shades. Then sister Nancy came by with pizza for dinner -- how sweet.

I am staying in for a few days and avoiding the cold and crowds. Mark is being so good to keep reminding me that these are the days I need to be cautious about being exposed to bugs and catching cold. So he is doing chores on these days when they keep predicting snow. Once I have 3-4 days for the Neulasta to do it's work, then I feel safer to be in crowds and cold weather. 

Mark is taking such good care of me. I am a lucky girl all around -- blessed in oh so many ways. I just have to remind my self of this from time to time. 

There but for the grace of God, go I.


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2 Down; 1/4 of the way there

Second Chemo Infusion ~ ROUND Two: The Winner - Debbie... Loser - Cancer
Blast those puny cancer cells to smithereens....

Mark, Basooka, and I arrive around 2:15 for our (oops, my) second chemotherapy treatment. The appointment is at 2:30 pm and they have trained us well to arrive 15 minutes early. I'm not really anxious at all. Basically I went about my morning and kept busy right up to the moment we left. Mark on the other hand, kept thinking we needed to leave early, and ended having time to change the sheets on our bed before we left. What a sweetheart.

So we are here and we wait in the waiting room for a short spell. It is a very cold day here for us  in Sonoma County and they are predicting snow overnight in lower elevations. They call me, "Debra", and we are escorted back to the Infusion room. Maybe it is called a Suite, or Salon. Heck if I know.

          
RRCC has their own pharmacy and we wait a bit for the drugs from the pharmacy, much like the last time. I have three pre med drugs from 3-4 pm, which I believe are all to help combat the nausea associated with chemo. I need to ask what these drugs are.
The premeds are followed by a saline flush.

So now it is 4pm and the Adriamycin is administered. This goes into the port, but it is not administered through the automatic drip gadget. Instead, Amy does it manually with two huge syringes, which takes about 20 minutes.

Mark and I are pretty relaxed. We browse through the chicken book I bought him yesterday, then he settles into his book, and I into my knitting. I swear this is the only way I can get him to relax and read. Go figure!!!???

I knit for awhile, type this into my iPad, and then snooze. My project is a Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann, and I'm enjoyhing the project a bunch. Maybe it is because of what it all means; Grandma Debbie, Nana, Nona, Mimi. Who knows what I'll go by, that is not forefront on my mind right now.

Basooka and Debbie Knit
Baby Surprise Jacket in Progress
Ahhhh..... Relaxation
        
By 4:40 pm, the place is quiet and the nurses start to chatter, and catch up. I'm the only patient in the five chairs on this side of the nurses station. I learn that there is one other patient on the other side. All the nurses are now gone except Amy. It is about now when I tell her about headache/stuffiness from the last treatment and she suggests I take some Tylenol now to help counter act it.

And it works. By the time we depart at 5:30pm, I have a bit of a stuffed head, but far better than the first chemo treatment.

So we are at:


Two Down; Six to Go! 

Alura reminds me I am 1/4 of the way there; and it feels real good.



Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Blast it all to Smithereens, version II

Today is THE DAY.

The day Mark and I head off to Redwood Regional Cancer Center to blast the puny cancer cells to smithereens, to quote a friend. I keep singing the verse in my head, "I'm gonna wash that guy right out of my hair"; although I substitute cancer for guy, and body for hair.

Stay tuned for my update later tonight or tomorrow. I'll most likely key some of it in on my iPad while there, and then post later.



Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Perfect Day & 2nd Chemo Tomorrow

Today was busy, productive, and FUN, and all with Sarah!!! I've been having a bunch of fun the last few days. Guess it is my way of gearing up for getting all that armament on tomorrow for the the battle I will undertake.

We started off with the blood draw and then appointment with Dr. Anderson, my Oncologist. Sarah had not yet been to one of my appointments with me, and I really enjoyed her company. Besides, I think it helped to quel any fears she may have had about my treatments. AND, I got to show off another one of my beautiful daughters to everyone!!!

Something I seem to notice at Redwood Regional Cancer Center ~ it is a somber place for sure. Not the staff, but the patients, of course. I've yet to see someone there much younger than me, which I suppose is because they would most likely be treated at UCSF instead, and those hear are mostly quite older and well into their treatments. So a lot of hats are visible, people in walker, wheelchairs, etc. I have to kind of tone down my cheeriness as I am not quite to where they are yet. Everyone once in a while I seem someone like me -- with hair. I wonder, is there there first consultation, their first blood draw, their first infusion??? I've not found many of the patients to be chatty during infusion; but then, I've only had one so far. (Be patient, dear Debbie, you are new to this club and people are just getting to know you).

Today was busy, productive, and FUN, and all with Sarah!!! I've been having a bunch of fun the last few days. Guess it is my way of gearing up for getting all that armament on tomorrow for the the battle I will undertake.

We started off with the blood draw and then appointment with Dr. Anderson, my Oncologist. Sarah had not yet been to one of my appointments with me, and I really enjoyed her company. Besides, I think it helped to quel any fears she may have had about my treatments. AND, I got to show off another one of my beautiful daughters to everyone!!!

Something I seem to notice at Redwood Regional Cancer Center ~ it is a somber place for sure. Not the staff, but the patients, of course. I've yet to see someone there much younger than me, which I suppose is because they would most likely be treated at UCSF instead, and those hear are mostly quite older and well into their treatments. So a lot of hats are visible, people in walker, wheelchairs, etc. I have to kind of tone down my cheeriness as I am not quite to where they are yet. Everyone once in a while I seem someone like me -- with hair. I wonder, is there there first consultation, their first blood draw, their first infusion??? I've not found many of the patients to be chatty during infusion; but then, I've only had one so far. (Be patient, dear Debbie, you are new to this club and people are just getting to know you).

As I arrive each time, I pay my copay when seeing a doctor, and am giving a long list of questions, the same each time....have i been sick, vomited, headaches, constipation... etc. Today I finally "get" to check yes on some. But the most exciting thing is that the receptionist tells me I do not need to pay a copay any longer if I have met my deductible. She comments that she has not experienced anyone meeting here deductible so soon in a new year. This has a good and bad connotation; but I focus on the good of it all.

Sarah and I are early, as they have been good to instill this in me already, asking that we arrive 15 minutes earlier than each scheduled appointment. So now I'm to the point where I'm not sure if the time they give me is the scheduled time, or the 15-minutes-early time.

(Fourth Grade Hat; Pattern by Abby Franquemont)
Anyway, we sit and knit on our hat projects while we wait in the waiting room. My entrelac hat pattern (Fourth Grade) is coming along nicely, and I no longer need to peak at the pattern.  I think I will finish it tonight. Sarah has shared with me a beautiful Cairn hat she is knitting from a Ysolda pattern. And it is for ME! :-)


The waiting room has several people in it. One thing you notice in a "Cancer Center" is most people do not come alone. There is almost always one friend who comes along to the appointment with a patient, sometimes more. This is encouraged and welcomed. For one, you need more than two ears to really hear everything that is said in one of these appointments. The information is new to most of us it is overwhelming, and there is a lot to absorb. So 4 to 6 ears pick up much more information than just two ears that are usually in the throws of denial and confusion.

In a few minutes we are called and brought back to the infusion room where Maria greets us. Maria is the first nurse I met there when they were checking the veins in my arms to see if a Port was warranted. As she draws blood from my nifty Power Port (I still think it is cool this device is under my skin and other than the little bump it makes just above my breast, you would never know I am a Power Woman) she asks that I be sure to tell the doctor how difficult it was to find my veins during the Port Install procedure. She wants him to know that this was truly warranted in my case. Be sides, doesn't he know I need my arms to knit during this shit! Maria is surprised I do not want any numbing before she accesses my port  ~ Remember, I am Powerful! The blood draw takes just a few moments. 

Then the tall nurse with the long dark hair, (the one who does not work in the infusion room, takes us into the exam room where Sarah and I chat, go over my notes on questions for the doctor, and knit some more. The nurse takes my BP, pulse and temp, and everything is great. She comments on our knitting and suggests that each hat looks very complex. Like me, so many years ago, she played with knitting for a bit but got frustrated and distracted by family and other. responsibilities Sarah and I assure her that although the knitting does look complex, mainly because the patterns are so cute, they are not all that difficult. I'm sure she does not believe us. When she leaves we wait a bit for Dr. Ian Anderson to arrive.

Dr. Anderson is a quiet man who does not seem to become alarmed by much. He is oh so calm; seems to be a sweet gentle man. I like him! He is good for me!! He tells me that my blood counts are all perfect and we are ready for chemo tomorrow. He goes over the check list I completed when I arrived and asks a few more questions. He asks if I have any rashes. Wouldn't you know that a few bumps popped up just this morning on the inside of my left knee and they are itchy. So after discussing this and showing him the area, he says we will need to keep an eye on this to be sure it is not shingles. At this point, there is not enough of a rash to warrant it, but we will check it the next two days when I return for chemo and the Neulasta shot. If it gets worse, I am to let him know right away as they will want to get me on an anti-viral drug. (My face is kind of breaking out right now, too which rarely happens, so I'll need to mention this next time I see him as I did not do so today.)

The appointment went well and we learned more about my other treatments. Dr. Anderson will do a breast exam ever other chemo treatment. This is to see that the size of the tumors have not grown. He said that is actually hard to determine this through scans as the tumor is usually taken over by scar tissue when the cancer recedes. It will only be in surgery that they will know if the lumps are malignant or scar tissue. But the exam will tell if anything is getting bigger. We also learned that surgery is best if followed 3 weeks after chemo ends, depending on how I am feeling at that time. At latest, surgery should follow 6-8 weeks after last chemo so as not to allow that weany cancer to start taking a hold again. Then soon there after it would most likely be followed by 6 weeks of radiation.

Now mind you, all this happened from 10:15 to 11:30am this morning and now the fun begins.

I've been meaning to make a stop at the Wednesday morning Santa Rosa Farmer's Market for some time. It seems I keep making trips past the fairgrounds on Wednesday mornings and see all the stalls, but cannot stop due to an appointment or other commitment. But today..... We head right back over there after my oncology appointment. The bags are now full of lovely cancer-fighting mushrooms to smother in a lovely Brookfarm egg omelet, blood oranges, kale and greens for juicing, sand of course some humus and chips.

Then we head West to Sebastopol to check out a new yarn store, West County Fiber Emporium, and have a nice time looking around and visiting with the shop owner. Sandie. She is carrying some Brookfarm yarns in her store!  :-)

Sarah at SEA Thai in Petaluma



So now we are hungry. And all I can think of is the restaurant that Tina and Nancy and I visited a couple of weeks back, Sea Thai. Sarah and I had a lovely lunch of Pad Thai, deep fried portobello mushrooms, and bok choi. Everything is so delicious, and we continue to visit and just enjoy each others company.






 Our last stop in our long day is a stop at the Seed Bank in Petaluma. Oh my, I am going to get a garden started soon, but there are thousands of seed packs and I cannot decide on anything. I do want to get some greens growing for juicing, but need to give it all some thought before taking the next step. Sarah will be telling Chris about the composting class they are having tomorrow night. So she and I browse around for 30 minutes or so, pick up a couple of catalogs, and a gift for Mark. He is now the proud owner of Poultry Breeds, a complete compedium of every poultry breed you could imagine, complete with beautiful photos and everything you could ever want to know. he will love this as he has really gotten into his chickens over the last 4 months or so.


So, that is our fun day outing. We are home, tired and worn out. But oh so happy. Now it is on to a nice dinner and restful night before tomorrow -- my second chemo treatment. Time to blast the smitherings out of those cancer cells again. I AM EXCITED!!!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!






 

Monday, February 21, 2011

6 Weeks and Counting

It was 6 weeks ago today that I was diagnosed with cancer. The weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster, much like our weather during that time. Some fabulous sunny days, and some stormy cloudy days. But I'm doing great right now and getting ready to gear up for chemo on Thursday.

So I'll play a bit tomorrow having lunch with a dear friend, Deborah; and then spend Wednesday with Sarah when she escorts me to my Oncology appointment and for my blood draw. So as long as blood counts are doing good, and there is no reason they shouldn't be, I'll have my second chemotherapy treatment behind me by Thursday night.


Woo Hoo!!!



Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Beans Against Cancer

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. 

The more you eat, the more you toot.


 The more you toot, the better you feel.  

So..... Eat beans for every meal!!!!!


Beans Against Cancer Article, Colorado State University.


Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. Weekly CancerDecisions.com
 Newsletter #116 01/18/04  



Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Anti-Angiogenic Foods



Anti-Angiogenic Foods

Green Tea Red Grapes Lavender
Strawberries Red wine Pumpkin
Blackberries Bok choy Sea Cucumber
Raspberries Kale Tuna
Blueberries Soy beans Parsley
Oranges Ginseng Garlic
Grapefruit Maitake mushroom Tomato
Lemons Licorice Olive oil
Apples Turmeric Grape seed oil
Pineapple Nutmeg Dark chocolate
Cherries Artichokes Others
Preventing angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) by means of drugs and/or diet is a way to help prevent and treat cancer. It is interesting that a diet of anti-angiogenic foods is also found to reverse obesity in experimental animals.

You MUST WATCH this 20 minute video by Dr. William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?

"Angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer - every type of cancer." - Dr. William Li


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gearing Up For The Slaughter

I've had a couple of very good days; pretty much feeling back to normal. So I'm gearing up for the upcoming slaughter of cancer cells later this week, aka chemotherapy.

The weekend was finished up with an afternoon spent today with two of my three sisters, Nancy and Tina. We celebrated Nancy's birthday by taking in a movie and Thai food. It was a lovely afternoon, and we have three thumbs up for Kings Speech. Don't miss it. Now if we could figure out why our ISP is still down..... GRRRRR!


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 

LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oncology Massage ~ Ahhhhhh...

Basooka came along with me today for my appointment with my friend Karen, who does Oncology Massage. Click the links to read a wonderful article just posted this week about her business and the fact she got started when her husband, Mike, was diagnosed with cancer. 


Oncology Massage is a relatively new therapeutic technique, now being adopted by more and more clinics and practitioners on the West Coast. Oncology massage is gentle touch therapy that’s adapted to be safe for cancer patients. There is no hard pressure work, or attempt to "move" toxins about the body. Instead, the treatment focuses on relaxation and relieving symptoms and stress so  the body can do what it needs to do: heal. 

So we had a lovely massage ~ Karen, Basooka, and I. I was so relaxed afterwards. I wish I did not have those few errands to run in town. But when I returned from town, I slipped into bed for a quick nap and all was good.

Since I was hoping to take in Knit Night with Tillie and friends at Sonoma Yarn tonight, I cast on my first "baby project" so I could brag to the ladies about our great news of becoming grandparents late this summer. AND I DID JUST THAT!

My Knittin' babes were all amazed at the ultrasound photo and how real the baby looks already. Everyone expected to see a blob, or something. But nope; they saw a cute little, face, chin and nose, with a lifted hand. So precious!

Life is good!


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Perfect Day...

... Feeling good, visitors, baby pictures, knitting, what more could a girl ask for?

So how much better can today get? Okay, cancer free would be the ultimate. But that ain't gonna happen anytime soon - actually Never!!!

So, next best thing is to count my blessings for today:
  • Good spirits and energy level to be able to do morning chores with hubby.
  • Walk down our lane to the mailbox (for city folks, this is a good walk!!)
  • Found check and postal delivery notice in mailbox. (Many bills too; boo hoo.)
  • Drive to PO, bank, and store to deposit check!!, pick up package!!!, and shop.
  • Return home to greet dear sweet daughter Sarah, and spend the afternoon knitting with her.
  • Open package to find an Angel of Hope, from sweet friend Michelle in MN.
  • Hubby worked on getting our books straight!!! :-)
  • Alura and Stephan sent Ultrasound photos of "the squirt" -- MADE MY DAY!!!
  • Tillie stopped by to visit and knit.
  • Mark and I finished off the day with a lovely dinner with Sarah.
What more can a girl ask for in life -- so many positive happenings. I am blessed.


Angel of Hope


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Morning Elixir

My husband and daughters will recall back to a time when I was Miss Granola. I mean, it was the 70's, I was young (barely 20), and a new mom. I was also brought up by a mother who was concerned about what we ate, vitamins, you name it. Not many kids my age, in the days of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, had homemade wheat bread fresh from the oven, spread with local honey. Or a breakfast of a bowl of yogurt with raw wheat germ and honey as condiments. I still crave the taste of good old fresh yogurt. You know, the sour kind. Not the yogurt with all this syrupy fruit and sugar.

Of course, the child of an Azorean Portuguese mother, and an Italian father, (grandparents on both sides immigrated across the pond), we had our share of salami, mayo and Teleme sandwiches, and lots of fish, and foraged mushroom. And other scrumptious things, like polenta, WAY before it was "in", and the abalone my father and uncles (brothers, too!) would rock pick.

Going Green ~ Juicing!

I digress..... What I'm leading up to is I've always been concerned with health and eating right. Although my weight has been a challenge for me over a good part of my adult life, we have never been into fast food and sodas in our house. I spent most of my first years of marriage studying up on Adelle Davis and cooks of her time. My girls didn't have chocolate or sugar in their diets for years, and we even went without TV for 2-4 years. Ask the family about the Lentil loaf I made once that everyone turned their noses up to. :-)

So when this cancer thing hit me like a ton of bricks, I had relaxed the diet somewhat and been in a slump. We were still eating quality local foods, but not always as careful as could be. So I've been kind of "prompted" to look at things more closely; especially diet.

ENTER JUICING...
I think we owned a juicer years ago. Probably a run of the mill, low- end variety. But now.... We are the proud owners of a Breville Ikon Juice Fountain. And I've been juicing almost daily for our morning beverage since Ikon (AND cancer) has entered our lives.

Typically a morning starts out with organic veggies, such as cucumber, broccoli stems, lots of kale, and something on the sweet side like carrots, or a green apple. Each day is different, and an experiment. But I'm having fun with it and feeling better. And Mark seems to be enjoying his daily elixir as well.

So let's hope we can keep this up. Something tells me that we have "the incentive", as much as I'd like not to admit it.

Assante! Here's to Good Health!!


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love From The Heart



Sunday was a nice day. Sarah, Alura, and Stephan were all here for breakfast, and Stephan cooked a lovely breakfast while mark was out doing chores around the farm. He made this scrumptious French toast out of a cinnamon bread and our farm fresh eggs. Then some lovely scrambled eggs to go with along with fruit, juice and coffee, too. Okay we helped just a bit! :-)

Sarah headed off for work and Stephan off for his "mother's in law ride", as he calls it, over Trinity Road. Alura and I spent time in the garden, she pruning roses and such, me knitting and supervising. It was a beautiful sunshiny day. Considering rain is expected over night, I'm just soaking it ll up, with my required sunscreen of course.

I'm starting to feel achy in my shoulders and neck and wonder if this is what is to be expected from the Neulasta. If someone touches me there, I'm very tender. And I've done nothing to cause this, honest! I also seem to feel very fidgity after eating. I thought it was from the bit of coffee I had this morning, after stopping coffee three or so weeks back. But then it happened again tonight, only more pronounced. This was after a lovely dinner hosted by our neighbors Tricia and Glen (and son Connor) which included other friends , Debbie and Joe. Dinner was delicious, but Mark was probably right ~ it may have been too soon for an outing. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, but was on edge and not myself, of course. Then when we arrived home I was so fidgety/anxious, I could hardly stand it. A couple of Atavan's seemed to help me and I was soon asleep for most of the night.

Now it is morning and the rain has arrived. But some very sad news also arrived early today.... I have just learned that a dear friend just lost her husband this morning to lung cancer. He was diagnosed but a month ago and she and I had following along with each other since we both got the a "C" diagnosis about the same time. Hy heart and soul, and all my prayers are with her this morning and today as she navigates through this new and very sad and scary time for her. Today will most likely not be a Valentine Day she will treasure.


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3 Days Since 1st Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, shmemotherapy.... is that all there is to talk about?

Well, apparently in my life right now, that's it!

Yesterday was a lovely day with Alura and Stephan arriving mid-afternoon for a visit and to stay the night. So we got to do group hugs with the parents to be! And talk all about what they have in store for them in 6 months when the little one arrives. They are so level headed and will have it all figured out by then, for sure.

We originally had other plans for the day, but I just couldn't be sure how I would feel to drive 3 hours away. And seeing my kids sure weighed out over anything else at this point in my life. 
Alura proceeded to help with pruning the plants around the koi pond, as the rest of us sat there and watched, knitted and talked. The yard has become pretty overgrown. That along with this gorgeous weather, has me wanting to work in the garden. But I need to give the Port another week or two before doing anything too vigorous. Then there is the care to avoid any kind of infection and be cautious around bacteria. So I can garden, but need to use some precaution and common sense. So that will have to wait a few weeks.

Around 4 pm it was cooling down so we all retreated inside with Alura and I sitting and talking while I knit some more. Soon I became sleepy and we both napped in the living room, while Mark did chores, and Stephan worked on his laptop. 

When I awoke an hour or more later, there was Alura and Stephan sitting together on their iPhones, and Mark getting the soup started for dinner. And that is when Sarah arrived and we had a yummy dinner of squash soup, and open faced grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a lovely evening with my girls, but I couldn't even remain at the table to visit, as I was very tired again and thought I would take a little nap around 8:30pm.... which turned into all night with a couple of breaks in between.  I awoke at 12:30 to take one of the Lorazepam's just in case, and to help me sleep. 

So now it is 6am, and I am up for the day. So I got a good long nights sleep. I guess the fatigue is as to be expected. Napping here and there, and going to bed early. The other side effect I'm just noticing over the last day or so is cotton mouth -- a horribly dry mouth whenever I awake and often during the day. I've started to use the soda/salt mouth rinse recommended by RRMG to see if this helps.

Today will be the first day without the two meds I took on days 2 & 3 after chemo.

So..... another day behind me. Yahoooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2nd Day After Chemo...

.... And I almost feel back to normal. Still a bit off, but nothing bad at all. But I slept well last night. Bet the Lorazapam helped!  :-)

Sure hope I'm not speaking too soon.

So with me feeling better, and wanting to share this funny sent to me. Here goes....

What men do when they make cookies:

 

Happy advance Valentines Day!


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, February 11, 2011

First Night/Day After Chemo

Well the first night after chemo was not a "great one", but it was not miserable. I guess on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, it was around a 6. I did not sleep well, waking at 2:45am and up in the recliner till 6am or so. I had an overall headache, just a big stuffy head. Feeling very woozy and quesy stomache. Just ache all over.  Then I slept good till about 8:30am when we needed to get a move on for my Neulasta shot.

Neulasta is a prescription medication called a white cell booster that helps your body produce more white blood cells to reduce your risk of infection. A sufficient white blood cell count will help my doctor to determine I am ready for my next scheduled chemotherapy treatment. Most doctors agree that sticking to the planned chemotherapy schedule may be the first step to success. Studies have proven the effectiveness of a Neulasta injection given 24 hours after chemo helps to protect chemotherapy patients against the complications of a low white blood cell count.

A side effect of Neulasta can be an overall achy feeling as it is pulling from the bone marrow to help support the white blood cell count. This usually occurs in the large bone areas such as legs, hips, shoulders. So far (knock on wood), this is good. And while today was still a groggy, quesy day, I think I've figured out my meds, Tylenol, and drinking tons of fluids, I'm learning how to manage it all. After a few good naps this afternoon and evening, my head is feeling much better.

So the next few days should be the worst. Apparently the doldrums of chemo can last a week. So I'll be back to my old self just in time for the next treatment! Whopeeeeeee!!!

I can't thank you all enough for all your love, support, prayers, etc. It is so very heartwarming to us both. While I don't respond to every email or call, I do hear you all and it is very heartwarming and boosts me up. HUGE HUGS.....

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

1st CHEMO: WINNER - Debbie

First Chemo Infusion ~ ROUND ONE: The Winner - Debbie... Loser - Cancer

I feel like  I'm going on a blind date.... I don't know him at all, is he cute, ugly, does he smell good or bad, will he burp in front of me? Is he taking me out for fast food or a nice dinner? Will we see a movie; a drama, or love story; or is he into gore and wars. I mean, I don't REALLY know a lot about this chemo date that I'm on. I've had all the instruction, but no one knows how I will react to these drugs. Everyone is different. 

Donna, a very pleasant medical assistant, calls me from the waiting room back to the infusion room. Is that even what they call it? She brings Mark and I back and gives us an orientation on the room. The bathrooms are over there, you can bring in food and there is a fridge to store it. They have crackers, water and fruit available, plus portable DVD players and a few movies. I see a basket of hats on the counter too.

I'm sitting in my cozy recliner chair in the infusion room waiting. My nurse, (she isn't wearing a name tag so I will ask her in a moment), is the same nurse who took my blood yesterday and was the first to access my port. She remembers that and asks if I used the lydocane yesterday. I did not, so we forgo that today too. It stings a bit when she "accesses" my port, which is basically placing the needle in. It is sort of odd as she has to push hard to get the needle into the port, which is made from some sort of material that immediately seals off after access and can be accessed to infinity. Sure hope I don't need it that long. Then she comes back a short while later with all the authorization and side affect forms for me to sign off on. I think there are an easy 5 pages. Mark snatches them so I can't read them during infusion. Probably a good idea.

Amy (I did ask her name) returns with my 3 bags of meds and has me verify that it is "me" on the bags. YEP! We got the right person (unfortunately). These three are the pre-meds, and designed to counter act the side effects, including the nausea.

The infusion room is a long room with a large nurses station in the center of the room. There are approximately 5 plush leather recliners on each side of the nurse station, plus a couple of side rooms for someone else, maybe radiation. Our chairs face a large bank of windows looking down from Fountaingrove over the Santa Rosa plain. There is a beautiful cherry tree in full pink blossom outside to the side. Go figure -- PINK! :-)
Its 3:05 PM and it's lift off; I am being infused.  The first hour will be with the anti-nausea drugs. Mark is reading and I am reclining and will get back to my knitting. I'm working on an entrelac hat. I wanted to have a baby project to start today, but that will be the next session, if not before. It needs to be the perfect project and yarn for the new grandbaby we will all welcome in August. And I wasn't quite prepared with it yet. I also have a beautiful alpaca blanket I will knit on soon, especially during the second series, which is a longer session each time.




It's now 3:30, and I've finished two of the bags for the "side effect" medications. One to go. AND I've just finished the first round of the head band and entrelac triangles on my hat, which is a dark heathery brown alpaca from my pacas. The next will be a fawn/white heather alpaca. So glad for my iPad. We don't have WiFi in the infusion room, but I can use my Notepad feature to get the Blog entry started so it is current when I finally get it posted. And although my phone volume needs to be off, I'm able to test and reassure Alura and Sarah that all is okay with their momma.

At 4:15 the chemo drugs start to flow throughout my body, but I don't feel any different at the moment. The first is a red drug called Adriamycin (aka Doxorubicin, or Rubex) and is done in a push/ pull method manually by the nurse. It can irritate the veins, so this method is used. This takes about 15 minutes and I'm told that my urine may be red for a day or so. Oops. Just took a potty break, and they got that one right! :-) Amy is a traveling nurse and very sweet. Id say she is in her mid-30s, much like my girls. She seems to love her job and is very enthusiastic.

Then a large clear bag is hung with the Cyclophosphamide (aka Cytoxan®, or Neosar®)  which is set on an automatic slow drip. We have another hour with this "date". And it gives me a foggy headed feeling, like sinus pressure and a slight ache to the nose. Almost done now!!!

I feel the cancer retreating already. WE are in control now, so you best shrink down to nothing you measly little cancer. There is no hope for you now!!!!! I can hear the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz saying, "I'm melting....."

So we leave RRMG at 5:30pm. This session lasted an extra hour, although I'm sure this was because of the orientation and some questions I had. Plus the three-four nurses had up to 10 chairs full for most of that time. We stop at Olivers specifically to pick up an allergy med (brain is mush now and I've already forgotten. They say short-term memory loss is expected. I got it already). It is to help tomorrow with the bone aches that come with the first Neulasta shot. Neulasta will help to correct the dip in my blood count that happens after chemo. Are we having fun yet? I will take this pill tonight and tomorrow to help with that. We also pick up some yummy bread to pair with the pumpkin soup I made the other night, and more veggies for our morning juicing. I was kinda loopy during our short shopping, as the head is getting more foggy as time goes on.

By the time we pull into our driveway, I'm pretty quiet and feeling kind of yucky. So Mark unloads the car and gets me all cozy in the recliner with my alpaca blanket, Basooka Bear, and some Ginger ale. I quickly fall asleep for about an hour while he does chores. Then it's soup, followed by some yummy sorbet Tricia brought us with her scrumptious dinner last night.

So now its 10'ish and I'm in my cozy flannel jammies, still feeling kinda yucky, but the head seems to be clearing just a bit. I have a whole regime of pills to take over the next 2-7 days, depending how I feel. Then I start all over again. And Mr. Phil is here to help me remember what to watch for...
What can happen when Phil is low? (NeutroPhil)

The main thing is that I'm home right now, and managing okay. This I will take and embrace for the moment. Sweet Dreams!

Results of this match:
Round 1 of chemo down: Debbie wins, cancer loses. 
Feeling groggy, stuffy headed and achy face, almost like a bad hangover but without the bad headache. Metallic taste in the mouth, a bit of a queasy tummy, saliva flowing, like when you think you might get sick. Vision kind of blurry. But all manageable -- so far, anyway! :-) 


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

One Month

To day is exactly one month since my diagnosis! Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma!!

Need I say that it has been a quick month. It started out slowly with the news and disbelief. Then the worrying and waiting to get in to see the doctor and see what was really going on and what was the next step. That followed by anxiety to get rolling with my plan of treatment. And finally all the tests and doctor appointments leading up to my first chemo treatment of today.

I must look at it as one month down, and probably 8-11 months more of "stuff". to go That would be 4 months of chemo starting today, then surgery, ending with radiation We hope that will be the end, but time will tell.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Many, Many Thanks

Many, many thanks to everyone.

The outpouring of love, support, prayers, meals, offers of rides, flowers, cards, comments, and emails; you name it. It has been so overwhelming. We are truly blessed and loved. You will all be in my thoughts to give me strength tomorrow during my first chemotherapy treatment. The unknown is often frightful, but with you in my thoughts, all will be okay.

Mark and I can't thank you all enough!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Screw Cancer, Screw the Chemo...

Did I say... We are going to be Grandparents!!!!!

Just had to say it one more time so it will sink in. We got to see Alura today for the appointment with my Oncologist, Dr. Anderson. How wonderful to hug her. She is so cute hearing her talk about "it". They have some huge changes ahead for them, and they will be wonderful parents.

Dr. Anderson went over a few more questions I had. It was good to learn I can have an occasional glass of wine; although I've almost cut it out of my diet over the last month. He did discuss other options if the drugs I have do not curb the nausea.

I had my Port accessed today for the first time, so it is no longer a virgin.  :-) The nurse drew blood to get a base line for chemotherapy treatment tomorrow. I sat in one of the infusion chairs and it felt weird at first. Why is there such a stigma about this whole thing? I mean, thousands of people, if not more, go through this daily. And the dose I get will lower my blood counts, but it will not strip my immune system entirely.

The nurse was all excited about the Port. This was probably to put me at ease, but she seemed to really enjoy it. I skipped the lydocane to numb the area, and it was no problem. Why get stuck twice, for goodness sakes. And Alura noticed how the lady next to me, who did not have a Port, had to keep her arm still in her chair. This way I can knit!!! :-)

When Mark, Alura and I returned home, Sarah was here with lunch ready for us. How wonderful to have both my sweet girls here with me. The plan is to schedule future chemo treatments on Sarah's days off work so she can come with me some of the time. And there are some friends and family who have offered to join me on my excursions too. So we will see how it all works out.

And people have been wonderful with food. Between lunches and dinners, we feel spoiled. It is kind of weird to be on the receiving end of all this love and generosity. Especially since I really feel pretty good right now. But the hectic schedule of appointments has certainly taken its toll on our normal routine. So we do are very grateful for all the love and outpouring of help. THANK YOU!!!

I think I am ready. I've updated my calendar with the reminders for the Neulasta shot the day after the chemo, and the 4 new meds I will take to help combat the nausea. Time will tell how I react, what side affects really hit me. They say everyone is different and it is really hard to say. Between the meds I have at home, and the one hour infusion of anti-nausea drugs they will use for my first hour of treatment tomorrow, I'm hopeful that I won't get too sick

But I'm sure that come tomorrow just before my infusion appointment I'll be a bit nervous.


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Coming Out About Things

While I've shared my "cancer news" with family and close friends, I've not really told everyone about my situation. So, today I think I am ready for it. That is to say I will probably put a subtle comment out on Facebook as I'm sure there will be lots of support available to me, and I may even be able to provide some support to others. But it does feel weird.

Countdown to Chemo: 1 day!
But first I need to get going for my day. Today is Oncologist day. Mark and I will go to my Oncology appointment this morning, and Alura will meet us there. She has attended each appointment with the surgeon or oncologist, and has been a breath of fresh air and very level headed. We will go over all the drugs I will be taking on my own at home, review any previous tests, and get clear on any questions we have to date. I think it will be pretty uneventful, as I feel I have most of the information I need for this next step. I mean, I'm ready for the appointment, scary as all the information makes it. I won't really know how I will react and what side effects will present, until I have chemo. So bring it on! Let's get it started!!

HUGE AND GREAT NEWS:
But the part that makes my heart sing, and keeps a huge smile on my face, is the latest news Mark and I received the other night. WE ARE GOING TO BE GRANDPARENTS! There, I said it. Alura and Stephan have decided it is time and they will welcome a bundle of joy in August 2011. We are both in shock and so thrilled. What a nice distraction to everything else in our lives. And to know she kept this quiet all through the holidays and even during my news of breast cancer. She said I needed to concentrate on my plan of treatment first before they could tell me. I don't know much else, but that is enough for me at this moment in time. I get to knit baby things! It is okay now. :-) Life is Good!

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Countdown to Chemo

The last few days have been very good days.... Saturday spent on the road transporting alpacas, Sunday relaxing around the home front and taking in the Super Bowl, Monday some more farm time and a trip in to see the NP.

And Tuesday, a day off cancer! YIPPEE. And a good day at that. We took care of some alpaca heard management stuff. (Check out Brookfarm Alpacas here). And then I drove in to Sonoma to pick up Sarah and the prescriptions I will need for chemotherapy treatment.

We arrived home to greet our very good friends, Mike and Karen. They came up for a visit and brought El Molino Central for lunch. YUMMMMMMMMM. So delicious. So we spent the next three hours enjoying the scrumptious selection of about five of the different dishes on the menu, and talking. Talking about kids, about cancer, about alpacas, about massage, about cancer....

You see, Mike is a cancer survivor too. And for him he is coming up on his first five years!

Why is it the club of close friends, cancer survivors, is growing? My friends Joe and Steve, are also survivors. And I've had more conversations with these three friends, all about cancer, than ever before. They've been very supportive, and open in sharing their experiences and some helpful tips. But I can't help but ponder over these three; all healthy men, all in their 50's (I think), non-smokers. What gives? It's like cancer is this random salt shaker up their in the sky and it falls down and randomly hits people. People who have done all the right things, lived a good life, treated others very well and cared for their loved ones, took good care of themselves. But then this random "thing" hits them just when they think life is getting ready to wind down and they can enjoy the fruits of their labor a bit. I guess the operative word here is SURVIVOR! And that is what I will hold onto dearly.

So the countdown is on for my treatment so that I can be in that Survivor Club. 2 days and counting to chemo. Thursday is THE DAY. And I think I am ready. Ready as I'll ever be, anyway.


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chemo Teach

So today was a good day!     That always feels good to say -- and it's true.

We had most of the morning to do some things around Brookfarm. It is such lovely weather here in Glen Ellen right now. Can you believe 73 degrees, sunny, and all the pastures are full of lush green forage for the pacas. Then I had a farm visit from a neighboring fiber store over West who will be carrying our yarn and raw fleeces. That is always a very good thing. Thank goodness Sarah is coming out tomorrow to help me skirt more fiber and replenish our stock. It will be good to have her company for our "off day" of any kind of doctor appointments whatsoever.

Of course it would be great to be pruning my roses and working in the garden, what with this absolutely gorgeous weather. But I need to take it easy for the next couple of weeks so that my Port settles in nicely and I don't disturb it in any way. Don't want to lose my special powers, for sure:-)

Redwood Regional Cancer Center was pretty swamped when we arrived for my 2:30 PM appointment today. This is probably a good tip to me that morning appointments would be better for my usual chemo treatments after the first one scheduled for this Thursday. But the appointment was pretty much a breeze:  a 20 minute video (kinda of dated and comical to watch), the appointment with the NP Teresa, and a quick tour of the infusion room. Mark was open to tell Teresa they might consider updating their video sometime soon. Teresa fully agreed and said they were already working on it. 

The best news of the day was to learn that all the test performed last week are within normal ranges, and their is no other sign of cancer or any issues whatsoever according to the MUGA, CT, and Bone Scans. Yahoo -- that is a huge relieve!

During my appointment the NP went over all the ins and outs of the two drugs I'll be starting off with on Thursday. She went into the details about side effects and explained that the first hour of my 2-hour infusion will be for anti-nausea medication, and the second half is the cocktail of  Doxorubicin Hydrochloride (Adriamycin) and Cyclophosphamide. These are the two drugs of my three part ACT cocktail. So only two hours each for the first four appointments, which lasts 8 weeks -- one week on, and one week off.  The major side effects are the nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, loss of appetite; amongst others to be sure. Oh, and low blood count. This will be combated with a shot of Neulasta the day after each chemo treatment to help to bring my blood count back up somewhat. That means treatment is actually a three-day process. One day to get the blood work done to make sure I am well enough for the next treatment, then infusion day, followed by a shot of Neulasta on the third day to bring the blood count back up.

I now have all sorts of tips to try to counteract the multiple side effects. of my chemotherapy And I will need to be very careful to stay clear of those who are sick, and bacteria from gardening and working with my alpacas. This is not to say I can't do these things, but I will take precautions with gloves and such, and only do what I feel is appropriate. But the bright side is that this is not the type of chemotherapy that strips your immune system. Yes, it brings it down significantly, but with the help of Neulasta and my bodies own defense mechanism, I should be able to fight off the normal germs around me. AND, I do not have any food restrictions. It is also okay to take my daily multiple and andy additional vitamin D and C. But everything else is off limits until after Chemo. No special herbal treatments, or high doses of other vitamins.

And yes, I'll be losing my hair in a couple of weeks. But Teresa tells me that frequently she sees patients hair return with a beautiful new texture and or color, like curls! Now that could be fun to anticipate. And I now have a beautiful supply of bandannas, courtesy of cousins Paula and Gail.

The NP has also called in 4 prescriptions for me at our local drug store. I'm to bring those with me to the next appointment so they can go over their use, which is mainly to combat the expected side effects. She also provided me with a mouth wash recipe that should help with the mouth sores (Yuck). Did you know you are not to floss during chemo, and can only brush your teeth very gently. This is to prevent any bleeding that can be exacerbated by one of the chemo drugs.

This series of chemotherapy will be immediately followed by a series with Paclitaxel (Taxol). This is the "T" part of the ACT. This infusion is identical in days of treatment (4 series to last 8 weeks), but each infusion will last 4 hours for that series, and there will be some new side effects, which we'll cover later.

So, tomorrow is an "off-day". Off from any kind of cancer appointments whatsoever. Yippee!!! I will focus on me, the farm, my hubby, Sarah's visit, and whatever else good comes to me.

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 


LIVESTRONG
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Niece's Experience

My niece, who's mother is a breast cancer survivor of 10 years, wrote this to me:
I REPLAY EVERY STEP IN MY MIND... scared, assured, faithful, hopeful, love, memories, Is my mother going to be here tomorrow? Is she going to see her first born grandson grow? All this brings it back. I knew regardless, my mom's strength out numbered the cancer in her breasts. I knew my mom was going to be strong! I know you have reasons to be strong! I have hope, faith and love for you! We all do. We all love you
I think of my beautiful sweet girls. Alura is so stoic and very practical. Sarah is the soft, fuzzy one. This is nothing new to them, or me. It just is who they are outwardly. And I know they ache equally inside about this. This must be what they are going through now, and it hurts to know they are pained by all this.

Damn this cancer. This weeny, evil demon. Trying to steal its way into our lives and set it all topsy turvy.

Well,   I JUST WON'T LET IT BE.  


Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior, soon to be survivor


LIVESTRONG:
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Glad This Week Is Over

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
~ John Wayne, Actor
I'm feeling much more positive and energized today, and that makes both Mark and I very happy. Today started out much better than yesterday, even though most of it was to be spent at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to get my Bard Power Port. Whoopie!!! (To see my previous entry with more details on the Port, scroll down or look at this previous post.)


It was a long day, leaving the house at 10am and returning after 4pm, but I am just so relieved the week is behind me!!! All the nurses were fantastic, cheery, upbeat, polite (my goodness the cardiac "waiting room" is a bustling place at 10am on a Friday morning at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital); AND my tuna sandwich as I was in recovery was darn good. Not to mention my sweetie Mark was there with me and sis Nance stopped by with us while we were waiting and prepping for the procedure. Things went pretty well.



Other than the drama of my veins hiding out from the RN and after 2 sticks she needing to call for an ultrasound assist for my IV (I didn't know they could do that), I now am the proud owner/recipient of the Bard Power Port. Is that like a Power Ranger or something? I mean they can infuse me, transfuse me, draw blood, and so many other things with this new gadget implanted under my skin on my right chest. I wonder if I can hook my new juicer up to it? :-) Oh silly me. I will want to taste the yummy drinks I'm going to create.

By the way, my veins are known for hiding out when a nurse approaches with a needle. It has been that way most of my life. That, compounded with my fasting for tests the day before and over night for the Port, it was a logistical reason that the nurse had difficulty with my IV.

We are now home, the port is in place, and I'm resting while Mark does chores.  There is some minor discomfort, but nothing that an Ibuprofen can't ease. 

After a week of one test after another, I was exhausted mentally, and worried to no end. Now I am just happy the week is over and not to be traveling to any hospital or doctor office for the next couple of days. 
Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior, soon to be survivor!

PowerPort PowerLoc
The PowerPort* device is a new kind of implantable port for  IV therapy treatments. It offers the unique ability to provide access for power-injected Contrast-Enhanced Computer Tomography (CECT) scans. Power-injected CECT scans produce superior images of the body to help the medical team better manage care. With a PowerPort* Implantable Port, I'll be able to receive IV therapy and CECT scans without having to undergo repeated needle-sticks in my arm or wrist veins. 




LIVESTRONG:
I AM STRONG. I AM LOVED. I AM HEALTHY. WE WILL WIN!