Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Scary Turn of Events

Hi, everyone. This past week or so has been a pretty scary one for me and my family. I have hesitated to write about it. First, I didn't want to in any way overshadow the amazing accomplishment of Pam, Joe, and Janaya. I posted the slide show of the pictures of their walk without any comment because I just couldn't come up with words that were capable of expressing my love and admiration for them. Second, I think in some subconscious way, I felt that if I didn't type the words maybe they wouldn't be true.

I have been having some difficulty with my breathing ever since the surgery to repair the damage from the radiation. It started out pretty mild and at first I thought it was just a side effect of having received general anesthesia. But, it has gradually gotten worse over the following weeks. I had a chest x-ray done about two weeks ago which was negative. Then, last weekend, the shortness of breath seemed to get worse and I developed pain in my back. We went to see my radiation oncologist and he sent me the next morning for a chest CAT scan which shows I've got fluid around my lungs. He is not sure what is causing it. It could be an infection, some kind of virus or fungus, or it could be cancer. He said looking at the films that it doesn't present like cancer usually would, but to someone whose cancer didn't show up on any of her mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRI's this is little solace. I go Tuesday morning for a needle aspiration of the fluid and we will know more when we get the results of that.

In the meantime, I started my new chemo, Navelbine and Xeloda. Dr. Wendt ordered routine bloodwork to be done before giving me the chemo. My tumor markers were 30 which is in the normal range, but up from the last ones which were 26. Everything else was normal except for my alkaline phosphatase. The normal range for this test is 39-145 and mine was 265. I didn't think much of it at first. The nurse who gave me my results didn't even mention it. Then, when we got home and looked it up on the Internet, we found out that an elevated level is an indication of problems with the liver or bone, two of the places breast cancer likes the most. Dr. Tannehill, my radiation oncologist, ordered a bunch of lab work when I saw him last week and the alkaline phosphatase level had gone up to 283. He ordered additional lab work that will tell us if it is coming from the liver or the bone.

So, it is a pretty nerve-wracking time around here right now. I'm tired from being sore and short of breath all the time. I am trying very hard to not let my mind jump ahead to conclusions until we have all the test results in, but it is hard not to do. I'm really, really scared.

One of the highlights of my week was going out to happy hour with my friends, Carol, Norma, Ruthie, and Janaya. Carol said something to me about my being brave in sharing my journey with all of you. I told her it is not a matter of being brave at all. It is a matter of survival. The love and support I receive from each of you, the words of encouragement, the hugs, the prayers and good thoughts, are what enable me to face each day and not let the fear overwhelm me. Unfortunately, I am not the first person to have to make this journey and I know I won't be the last. It doesn't do any good to ask, "Why me?" It is what it is. But, the one thing I can count on, the bright spot in all of this, is knowing how many people are here for me, walking beside me each step of the way, giving me the courage, hope, and strength to face whatever lies ahead.

Thank you.


NP said...

I love you Martha and the prayers will keep on coming especially at this stressful time for you and your family.
Love & hugs,

velvet brick said...

My Dear Martha,
Well, I understand what you are saying about not being brave in sharing your journey with us, but I still think you are. I've thought that from day one. You are beauty and grace and bravery and strength all in one.

You are not alone in this latest step on your journey. I, like so many, pray for you - daily. Prayers are also said for your wonderful family and your doctors.

Pamper yourself and let me know if there is anything, anything at all, that I can do for you or for your family...24/7. I loved having happy hour with you and the girls - it was so fun to laugh and visit!! We'll do it again, soon! The Margarita Express is always ready to go! : )) Love and hugs, dear friend.... : )) Carol

Cheela said...

I am saying some extra prayers for you. You are such an awesome, brave person. I admire you so much!


Patty said...

Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I so admire your strength.
Patty Wills

Jane said...

You have such a brave face and a beautiful smile everytime I see you. I had no idea that you were going through this stress. I admire you and look up to you so much. I have been wrapped up in my own little set of troubles that I haven't checked your blog or anyone elses for awhile. I am so sorry that you are worried. The not knowing what is going on can be the hardest at times.
I will be praying extra hard for you, and I am sending good thoughts your way. You will beat this day it will be a distant memory! Stay Strong Martha!! ((hugs))

elizabeth Brabec said...

Dear Martha,
My prayers are pumping with strength, courage, and love for you and your family.
Yur optimism and faith are hands that we are all holding on to for you.
Love you,

N-Search of Peace! said...

I believe in positive energy....

I believe in survival (Bravery)....

I believe in your doctor's....

I believe in your family and all us friends....

I believe in YOU!

Love and grateful blessings are wished for you this hollowed Thanksgiving...

Dottie said...

Dear Martha,
To see you interact with such compassion to your classroom kids and see the strength and optimism you outwardly show all of us every day, no one would ever know you were facing these struggles right now. I guess it just means we all need to pump up our prayers, good thoughts, and best wishes for you right now to help you get through this one too.

Not one of us can totally grasp
the extent of the worry and fear you must be going through right now but please know, dear friend, that we all love you, support you, and continue to be right there by your side every step of the way. There's not a thing that any one of us wouldn't do for you.

You are a beautiful and amazing woman, Martha!

Lots of love,