Monday, July 21, 2014

How I deal with it.

I do most of my communicating about my journey with cancer on Facebook and I have a tone of voice there that is lighthearted and humorous because that is how I deal with all of this in real life. I can't seem to find that tone of voice here in this blog and I have been more and more reluctant to sit down and write anything about what I am going through. 

I do not want to rehash every detail of every test and treatment and procedure in this blog when the people who are interested already are reading about them on Facebook. There are maybe a few of you that I am not Facebook friends with, but that is easily solved by getting in contact with me and exchanging names. Not many people leave comments on my posts, so I can only assume that there is not enough interest to want to know how the rest of the story unfolds. 

If you only want to exchange email addresses, than that is fine too. I'd be happy to start up a correspondence that way. As long as I have the time and energy, I am willing to spend them on a good cause. 

For now, I am saying goodbye to this blog, but if I survive my bout with cancer, I may some day come back to it. The future is too uncertain for me to predict. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An honest attempt

I will try to write a blog post but you will only know about that fact if you find something written here in the morning. I am awfully tired and it is in the middle of the night, but I am not in the mood to go to bed. I am forcing myself to stay awake, not by drinking cups of coffee, because they don't agree much with me anymore, but by drinking tall glasses of lemonade and having some small snacks to eat every once in a while. I am trying to get my energy out of small sources of sustenance like cup of soup. These agree with me most these days. 

Between the Exfactor and the Cowboy I have been eating a lot of sweets lately in the form of cake and pie and chocolate and I have had more than my share of them and , besides, I think they are not good for me to eat. I think these two men had the silent agreement to try to make my life as pleasant as possible by feeding me junk food, but I have to tell you that this idea backfired and I now can not see another piece of chocolate. I am dying to eat healthy foods in the form of whole wheat sandwiches and fruit. It is a good thing that the Cowboy is leaving to go back to the States this weekend, because my digestive system would not survive anymore of this onslaught. 

The Cowboy has come down with a cold and is trying very hard not to contaminate me. We have disinfecting hand gel and Dettol tissues and wash our hands often. We are also keeping at a healthy distance from each other. In another week, my immune system will be at its weakest, but he will be gone by then, It will be a time when I will have to be careful. I am still clearing my throat a lot and am still very hoarse. That has not improved. I suppose I will have to be patient. 

I will go to bed now simply because I have to be sensible. I do need to get some sleep if I am going to function tomorrow. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Got that done too

I successfully rounded off the first set of chemotherapy yesterday morning without getting sick from it at all, so I am much relieved about that. Whatever medicines I got to prevent that from happening, worked and now I can only hope that they will keep working for the two remaining sets that I have coming up. I have been told that every experience is different and to not count my blessings ahead of time. You know, of course, that I will do that anyway being the optimist that I am. 

I was called yesterday and told that the preamble to my radiation therapy is starting this coming monday with an interview and another pet scan to establish the exact location of the tumors in my lymph system.  Measurements will be made so that the radiation can be directed exactly at these locations and not a millimeter away from them so as to spare as much healthy tissue. Each time I get radiated, I will have to be in the same position that I was in before. 

The radiation starts on the 28th of July and will take place in the morning and the evening and itself only lasts a few minutes. It is getting into the right position that is crucial. I will go home between these two sessions. I have transportation arranged that is paid for by my health insurance company. I have been told that the radiation therapy with zap my energy and I am getting 39 days of it. That, along with the chemo, will have me worn out in no time, I think. 

Because the weather has been so hot, it has been uncomfortable to wear scarfs, and at home I walk around with a bare head. When I go out, I wear a cap, but yesterday I ordered some light weight knit hats that should get here today.  They were on sale and come in very bright colors like apple green and orange-pink. I think I will be happy with them for every day use and leave the scarfs for special occasions when I want to get dressed up. Having a bare head feels the best, but I realize I have to keep it covered up a bit so as to not be too confronting. The Cowboy did discover a widow's peak yesterday and told me that was something special. 

I have to enjoy these three days that I have coming up that are going to be relatively quiet and uneventful and then all hell breaks loose. I am going to have to be ready as I will ever be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And so I arrive on day two

I think it is more than time to write a post that informs you about how things are going with me right now. I had been so dreading the chemotherapy, that I did not feel up to writing much at all. I would start to write a post, but then get stuck for the right words about one third of the way down and end up deleting it. I was worried that the chemo was going to make me feel very sick, having been warned by the chemo nurse that this could very well happen. Actually, I was prepared for it to and was not very excited about going into the hospital.

Imagine my surprise when I did not get sick at all! When that overnight stay at the hospital turned into a little holiday. It was like staying at a luxury hotel and I have to find out where to get a bed as comfortable. I got my three square meals a day and for hospital food, they tasted fine. The nurses were very friendly and were very competent at their job.

Of course, I was there to be treated for cancer, so it really was not like a holiday. But at least it was not the traumatic experience it could have been and I am grateful for that. I am home again now, after also having the MRI scan made of my brain today, and I am in good shape. Tomorrow morning I have to go get one more chemo treatment and then I have to wait eighteen days until the next ones. All my blood levels will have to be good for me to be able to do the next series. During the second ones, the radiation therapy will start.

I really am in fairly good shape, mentally as well. I have physical pain, but the pain medication works pretty good. There usually is some blessing to count and as a rule I feel real good at the end of the day. I make sure that I take advantage of that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

On an unstoppable train

It has been decided by the team of specialists that the very huge enlarged lymph node by my left lung, is really the primary tumor and is actually in my lung. I will be getting the treatment assuming that this is the case, because any less would soon mean the end of me. I will start the first set of chemotherapy this coming Tuesday and will have three days of it with one night in the hospital. Then I will have eighteen days off while my blood count goes back to normal. When it is, I will have another three days of chemotherapy and at that time the radiation therapy will also start. 

I will have three sets of chemotherapy and thirty days of radiation therapy when I will have to go into the hospital in the morning and in the evening to get a dose. Then I will have nine days when I will get a single dose every day. This is providing that I react well to everything and that it can all go according to schedule. Nobody said that this is going to cure me and I think I have to assume that it will possibly not. My survival chance is 25%. That is not very high.

The specialist in charge of my case is very good and she gives me a lot of confidence. I think I am in good hands. Yesterday, I also met the chemo nurse and the radiologist and I am equally impressed with them. Everything that is going to happen has been explained to me and also what the effects of the two therapies are going to be on my body besides hopefully destroying the cancer. It certainly is not going to be a party and I am in for some interesting times. I am, however, not scared and I know that this needs to be done. There is no other choice. 

Next week there is also going to be an MRI scan made of my brain to see if there is metastasis there. I am very much afraid that there is and that this is what the problem was with my eye. I see on photos of myself that my right eye droops a bit. All I can do is hope that this is not true and that nothing will be found. 

My sister was on a mission, and that was to find a few scarves for me for when the chemotherapy started and my hair would fall out. I was thinking of some plain square scarves, but she came over today with two large beautiful square ones that have the most wonderful colors. I took one and without looking in a mirror, tied it very elegantly around my head. It was such a success that I decided that I would not wait for my hair to fall out in bits and pieces, but that we should shave it off then and there. The Cowboy and my sister shaved it off in two stages (the Cowboy did the precision work) and now I have a bald head that is nicely wrapped in a beautiful scarf. 

Today was an exhausting day because I had to process so much information and make note of so many dates and details. It is a good thing that I am not trying to do this all by myself. I am using my very large coffee table as a work surface to keep all my papers pertaining to the cancer organized on. I still think that I am forgetting things and have to keep checking them. 

The Cowboy makes sure that there are always fresh flowers around which cheer up the living room tremendously. It is such a nice space to be in. We really do take our rest there when we get a break. I suppose I ought to go to bed now, but I like this bit of time by myself late at night. Outside there is a thunderstorm and it is very cozy in here. Regardless, I will say goodnight. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

The tricky parts

I am becoming familiar with more of the different emotional stages of living with cancer and today it was the sad, grieving stage while I have already had an angry one. No doubt these will repeat themselves and there will be others I go through. I can not yet imagine what they will be, but I am not that curious that I let loose my imagination to try to figure them out ahead of time. I can wait until they happen naturally. 

I must say, though, that while I go through such a stage, I do work out some problem or other that needs to get solved, so they can be productive as well as bothersome. It isn't all bad. But don't ask me to repeat that while I am in the depths of one, because I will deny it. The good thing is that I am not on my own, but that I have the Cowboy's shoulder to cry on and that he very willingly let's me. I have told him that he doesn't need to solve anything for me, but just listen to me go on and on and so he does. 

Tyke becomes confused and tries to find comfort also, but doesn't quite know where to find it, so I have to make sure that at some point I pay attention to him and reassure him. He is more than willing to let that happen to him and have his belly rubbed. The poor animal didn't sign up for any of this to happen to him. But then again, neither did I. 

We haven't seen Gandhi since early this afternoon when my sister's dog scared the living daylights out of her and she disappeared outside somewhere. The dog has been gone for hours, but Gandhi has not yet come back. It may take a while before she does. 

When the pain medication wears off in the afternoon before it is time to take the next dose, I have discovered that I can take 1,000 mg of paracetamol and that will help in the meantime. I will discuss this with my GP when he next comes over, which should be at the end of this week. I will call the practice in the morning and make the appointment.