Saturday, August 23, 2014

life's a ball, if only you know it! and it's all just waiting for you! you're alive, so go on and show it! there's such a lot of livin' to do!

Well... we knew it was going to happen eventually. I got turned away from chemo yesterday due to low white blood cells. I don't really have a whole lot to say about it, other than it's disappointing. It was also a reminder to quit looking at dates as an end to this ordeal, and start thinking in terms of treatments to go. (Still 10). They have prescribed a shot called Neupogen that we will do at home the Wednesday before chemo to help keep the white blood cells in abundant supply. The goal is no more delayed chemo!

Thinking about getting into yoga or something similar to help ease my mind because I am not good at functioning when I don't have access to all the information. When I ask Dr. O questions about prognosis (questions that I have been scared up to this point to ask) all she can tell me is that we will have to wait and see what we learn from the tissue that is removed in the mastectomy. Did I mention I'm getting new boobs? Well I am. Hopefully the new ones won't try to kill me. Also, hopefully they will be fabulous.

I am continually reminded that I have very little control over this disease, and I need to just let the treatments run their course. Healthy diet and exercise can (and will!) help, for sure, but I truly am at the mercy of chemo and my body's response to it. Having no control is hard in most ways, but freeing in others. Trying my best to see that God is the one who has control. He alone knows what the outcome of this will be. Also, the thing about life is, nobody gets out alive. Moral of the story - enjoy the time you've got, and don't waste time and energy on things that don't matter.

Today's prayer request: please pray that the chemo completely works. Pray that when they remove my tissue that there is no evidence of cancer left after chemo. Pray that the affected lymph node is completely clear. I've got a lot of livin' to do.

Love y'all,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

if we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate, just one day out of life, it would be, it would be so nice...

Today I am celebrating many many little things that add up to a whole lot of reasons to be happy. Please, celebrate with me, friends:

First, I am a little nervous to say it out loud because inevitably a few of my chemo's are going to get postponed due to low blood counts, but after getting psyched out three weeks ago with a new treatment plan which changed the halfway point, we have once again climbed back to halfway in terms of weeks! I've been in treatment for 10 weeks, and I have 10 more to go. Milestones y'all!

Second, my sister Kathryn and her family MOVED BACK TO TEXAS THIS WEEKEND. Ok, so they didn't move to my area of Texas, but can I get an Amen for not having to book a flight or drive 14 hours to see them anymore? I was so disappointed when they first switched me to weekly chemo because I knew that meant I wasn't going to get to see them this summer in Minnesota. Now that they are back in Texas, this brings me to happy thing #3:

Kathryn and Blake spent the weekend in Grand Prairie while Kellen, his brother, and his dad did the actual hard work of moving. At first their plan was to drive the whole way from Minnesota to Lubbock with a 13 month old in a car seat. 17 hours. Can you even imagine what that would be like? Sounds like pretty much the worst thing I can think of. So glad that Kellen let us borrow his wife and son for the weekend. It was much needed medicine for me, Kel. :) You're the best. Also, Blake gives, without a doubt, the best hugs ever.

the huge mole makes it's internet debut

Fourth, I got to have lunch on Thursday with a friend of a friend who is a nine year triple negative breast cancer survivor. It was so wonderful to be able to talk to someone who has literally "been there, done that" and gain wisdom and perspective on this whole thing. Yeah, it's scary. Yeah, it's hard. Maybe the hardest thing you've ever done...? But there is hope. This is temporary.

Fifth, and I feel I can't possibly say this with enough enthusiasm to convey how exciting this part of the news is: ACID REFLUX HASN'T BEEN A PROBLEM SINCE WE SWITCHED TO NEW CHEMO DRUGS!!!. Sorry for yelling y'all, but this needed to be shouted from the rooftops. I still have to be careful. I'm still wary of tomatoes and all things spicy, but it is the best news to be able to eat "normal" food and not feel like my throat is being ripped out every time I swallow my own spit. (sorry that's gross) Sigh.......... :)

Sixth, (and this is really a piggy back on 5) the new drugs are so much better. I am so thankful that the treatment plan called for the harder stuff first. Not to say that it isn't hard anymore... the fatigue I feel every day is cumulative. My skin is getting drier. My eyebrows and eyelashes are still falling out. But, you know what? I've had an epiphany about my self image. This is just another chapter in my life. Another type of beauty, and this beauty comes from deep within. You have to earn this kind.

Love y'all oh so much,

Monday, August 11, 2014

then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me, there goes the fighter, there goes the fighter. here comes the fighter, that's what they'll say to me, say to me, say to me, this one's a fighter

A day in the life of chemo. Please enjoy this (slightly blurry) photo essay courtesy of Connor.

Starting my day by filling out a survey about my symptoms for the previous week, and getting my blood pressure checked for an exercise study I am participating in.
treadmill time!

all done. had to scrounge up some paper towels to wipe down my head. Also, Connor says anytime he points a camera at me, I should smile. Now I know.

blood draw to determine if my counts are good enough for chemo.
waiting for infusion.

bathroom break with my pole. Lots of fluids!

So the new drugs seem to be pretty good so far. The only bad thing is that with Taxol they have to do a benadryl drip before hand to keep you from having an allergic reaction. Luckily I didn't have any reactions, but that doesn't get me out of the need for the benadryl each week. Basically this means I will be loopy for the rest of chemo days and require a 2 hour nap afterwards. Know this - the two hour nap is a glorious one. Benadryl doesn't play around.

I haven't gotten to my traditional "bad days" yet of acid reflux (that would be tomorrow-Thursday), but I am hopeful that it won't be a problem! I am still pretty tired... had a really big weekend with family members in town from both the Meehan and Warder/Wells side, so I pushed myself probably a little harder than I should have... but it was so worth it. For now I am glad to have another chemo checked off the list. Knocking 'em down!

Love y'all,

Thursday, August 7, 2014

you like potato and I like potahto, you like tomato and I like tomahto, potato potahto, tomato tomahto, let's call the whole thing off...

I never quite realized how much I liked tomatoes until now. I'll just go ahead and up the ante with the L word. I love tomatoes. Like really love them. The saddest thing is going to a pizza kitchen with friends, and having to order 4 cheese pasta. Sad trombone. Although really, they don't even tempt me anymore. I tried to have a rendezvous with some ketchup (surely just a little won't matter?) It matters. I am no longer tempted.

In other news, I am starting to notice some eyebrow thinning, dangit! Fear not though. While I may end up looking like Voldemort, I'm going to take this as a sign that the chemo is working! Also, they WILL grow back. Dr. O guaranteed it. The Dark Lord will be defeated once more. For now I have a new weapon, it's name is "the eyebrow pencil".

Stream of consciousness side-note: I am realizing that I reference Harry Potter quite a bit on this blog. OWNING IT. Truth be told, since chemo apparently makes you unable to remember anything, I decided that it would be fun to go back and read books from my childhood while I'm going through chemo. Books that are like familiar old friends that you only get to see once in a blue moon, but it doesn't matter because you pick right back up where you left off. I started with the Harry Potter series (although that wasn't really from childhood.... oh well), and sneaked in, "The Giver" between books, since there's a movie coming out, and that was one of my absolute favorites in middle school. Narnia will probably be next. Lots and lots of old friends.

Back to the eyebrows: Katherine (sister in law) and I went to get pedicures on Sunday, and the lady seriously tried to peddle some eyebrow waxing on me. I'm like, really? Do you see me in this scarf with no hair? There's no way you're yanking any more of my precious hairs out. BACK OFF, LADY!

So, how am I doing this week? Actually pretty great. I still tire pretty (ok really) easily, but all the other symptoms have taken a back burner (as long as I don't eat tomatoes...) I have decided that I am a glutton for punishment. Once I'm back to the "good days" I get all antsy for the next chemo. I feel like I should be back in that chair killing cancer cells.

Tomorrow, we are starting the new regimen of weekly Taxol plus Carboplatin every third week. Not going to lie... I'm really nervous about getting hit every week, and completely bummed about losing my chemo free weekends, but at the same time I am ready to KNOCK THEM OUT. Let's get this show on the road, y'all.

Everybody think happy thoughts that the new drugs don't have as many side effects! Or at least if there are lots of side effects, let them be fun ones like spontaneously bursting into song. I may do that one anyway...

Love y'all, Jess